The FBI announced that dozens of children were rescued and hundreds of traffickers were arrested in one of the largest child sex-trafficking operations in U.S. history.
- 82 sexually exploited juveniles recovered nationwide
- Five of those juveniles were in Washington state.
- The bust was part of Operation Cross Country X
- This operation the FBI’s annual law enforcement action focused on recovering underage victims of prostitution.
- This year’s 10th operation is the largest to date.
The operation on national level
Operation Cross Country X shared its annual busts in several cities across the country on Tuesday. The international effort focusing on underage human trafficking took three days, from Oct. 13 to Oct. 16.
This year’s Operation Cross Country—the largest to date—led to the recovery of 82 sexually exploited juveniles and the arrests of 239 pimps and other individuals.
The operation on a local level
According to the FBI Seattle office, three Child Exploitation Task Forces (CETFs) in Washington State, along with other local partners, recovered five juveniles and contacted 67 adults being exploited through prostitution.
Fourteen people were arrested in relation to commercially exploiting children and adults. Drugs and several vehicles were recovered during the operations.
Operations occurred in Airway Heights, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Lakewood, Pasco, Spokane, Tukwila and throughout King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
The multi-agency CETFs made contact with young women involved in prostitution through the use of undercover agents and detectives and by canvassing areas where street prostitution is known to occur.
This year, the North-Central Sound CETF included operations targeting individuals looking to pay for sex with minors. This operation led to the arrest of two men seeking to pay for sex with a law enforcement officer posing as a 15-year-old.
“Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population,” said FBI Director Comey, announcing the results of the operation during a press conference in San Diego. “We are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office for Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”
Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003. Since its creation, the program has resulted in the identification and recovery of more than 6,000 children from child sex trafficking, and prosecutors have obtained 30 life sentences in cases against traffickers and their associates.
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