Nationwide crackdown on underage sex trafficking leads to recovery of 84 minors
Eighty-four minors have been recovered and 120 traffickers arrested as part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from Oct. 12-15.In operations based out of the FBI Tampa Field Office, one juvenile was recovered and three human traffickers arrested in the effort jointly led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
This is the 11th iteration of the FBI-led Operation Cross Country, which took place this year in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners. This year’s coordinated operations took place with several international partners, including Canada (Operation Northern Spotlight), the United Kingdom (Aident 8), Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested-and the number of children recovered- reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a prepared statement issued Wednesday. “This operation isn’t just about taking traffickers off the street. It’s about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle
As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites. The youngest victim recovered during this year’s operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old.
Minors recovered during Cross Country Operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental
health counseling, as well as a number of other services, officials said.
Participating law enforcement agencies in this year’s Operation Cross Country included: Tampa Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Winter Haven Police Department, Lake Wales Police Department, Lakeland Police Department, Haines City Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Orlando Police
Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,500 child identifications and locations. For additional
information on Operation Cross Country XI and the Innocence Lost initiative visit fbi.gov.
Source: FBI, Tampa Division