LOS ANGELES—The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday announced that child sex trafficking crackdown has made remarkable progress and it has expanded to foreign countries.
FBI, along with representatives from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and several international law-enforcement partners, announced that, domestically, 82 minors were rescued and 239 traffickers and their associates were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country X, an international effort focusing on underage human trafficking which ran from Oct. 13-16, 2016.
FBI Director James Comey and NCMEC Director John Clark announced the results of Operation Cross Country X Monday at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) convention in San Diego.
In the greater Los Angeles area, one minor was recovered and two alleged traffickers were arrested, announced Deirdre Fike, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
Additionally, eight men and eleven women were taken into custody by local authorities for solicitation of prostitution.
This is the 10th iteration of FBI-led initiative, which took place across the United States and, for the first time, also in several countries around the world.
Law enforcement partners from Cambodia, Canada, the Philippines and Thailand had operations in their respective countries.
In Canada, as part of a corresponding effort called Northern Spotlight, authorities recovered 16 children, while in Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines, authorities recovered 25 children, including a two-year-old girl.
“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.
“As part of this effort, we are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office of Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”
Operations took place in a number of locations, including hotels, truck stops and street corners. Minors recovered during an arrest are engaged with state protective services and victim assistance.
Depending on the level of need, a law enforcement officer and, if available, an FBI victim specialist will accompany the survivor to obtain these services.
“Child sex trafficking is a global problem and we must throw every resource we can at combating it,” said NCMEC Director John Clark.
“All of us at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are proud to work side by side with the FBI and their law enforcement partners as we work tirelessly every day to find and rescue child victims and while ensuring that those responsible for this horrible crime are held accountable.”
Operation Cross Country X is the largest ever in the history of the initiative, with 55 FBI field offices and 74 Child Exploitation Task Forces representing more than 400 law enforcement organizations taking part in the operation.
In addition, several dozen operations across Canada, and approximately 10 operations took place in six cities across Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Operation Cross Country X is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost Initiative, which began in 2003. These teams work all year to recover minor trafficking victims. Since the inception of the program, there have been more than 6,000 child identifications and locations.