|'INNOCENCE LOST' STING II
Another 47 Kids Rescued
In a Virginia hotel that ordinarily caters to business travelers and vacationers, FBI agents and local police officers were encountering a different kind of clientele.
Throughout Friday evening, a handful of prostitutes came thinking they’d made an appointment with a “customer” in Room 403.
The arrests that followed were similar to those playing out across the nation last week during a three-day sweep called Operation Cross Country II. The goal: get child victims of prostitution off the streets and into protective services and disrupt the individuals and organizations that victimize children.
The FBI, along with the Department of Justice, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and our law enforcement partners around the country—in all, 92 local, state, and federal agencies in 29 U.S. cities—conducted the coordinated effort as part of our ongoing Innocence Lost Initiative.
A total of 630 law enforcement personnel participated in Operation Cross Country II. The operation resulted in 642 arrests (including 73 pimps and 518 prostitutes), the disruption of 12 large-scale prostitution operations, and, most importantly, the rescue of 49 children—ages 13 to 17 years old—from the sex trade. Ten of those children had been listed as “missing” in the NCMEC database.
At a press conference at FBI Headquarters in Washington today, FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole said, “Sex trafficking of children remains one of the most violent and unconscionable crimes committed in this country.” He added, “There are few law enforcement missions more important than protecting our nation’s children.”
This cooperative effort—there are currently 28 Innocence Lost task forces and working groups around the country—has been highly successful. Last June, the first Operation Cross Country led to more than 350 arrests and rescues of 21 children. To date, the work of the Innocence Lost Initiative has resulted in:
Most important of all, our efforts have led to the recovery of 577 child victims.
Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC, estimates there may be “tens of thousands” of juvenile sex trafficking victims in the United States. The Innocence Lost Initiative continues its efforts to rescue them, even if it’s one child at a time.