Home Portland Press Releases 2009 Federal and Local Agencies Rescue Four Children in Sex Trafficking Sting

Federal and Local Agencies Rescue Four Children in Sex Trafficking Sting
Oregon Participates in "Operation Cross Country IV" Initiative

FBI Portland October 26, 2009
  • Beth Anne Steele (503) 460-8099

Dozens of federal and local agents, officers, and deputies in Oregon worked together in a coordinated strike against the growing problem of children forced into sex trafficking as part of “Operation Cross Country IV.” The stings in Oregon occurred October 22nd, while teams in other parts of the country continued into the weekend. Operation Cross Country, which is coordinated through the FBI’s Innocence Lost program, is designed to disrupt the cycle of victimization by getting children off the streets, and, if possible, to arrest the adults who are profiting from the sale of them in this way.

In Oregon and SW Washington, the teams of law enforcement officers were able to rescue four underage girls and to pick up eight adult “pimps” at five sites throughout the metro area. (We will not disclose those sites due to on-going investigative efforts.) The Oregon Department of Human Services started protective service assessments and various social service agencies are working to provide each child with necessary services. Officers and deputies from various local agencies took custody of the pimps, charging them with a variety of crimes. They also cited 29 adult female prostitutes and arrested one “john” or caught in the sting.

“No child deserves the abuse and the violence these children face every day,” said Arthur Balizan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “We, as a society, will not tolerate what basically amounts to selling these kids as sex slaves. By working together with all of these other local law enforcement and social service agencies, we hope to truly have a positive impact on their lives.”

The FBI coordinated Operation Cross Country IV activities in Oregon with other such efforts at FBI offices throughout the United States. Operations Cross Country I and II, both of which happened in 2008, and Operation Cross Country III, which occurred earlier this year, led to hundreds of arrests and the rescue of dozens of children throughout the nation. Oregon first participated in round three, and at that time rescued seven underage girls, which was the second highest number of any site in the country at that time.

As in the previous cases, these operations were the result of work by the Innocence Lost Task Force, now located in almost three dozen FBI offices nationwide. The Portland FBI recently received its approval to join the Innocence Lost National Initiative. The Innocence Lost Initiative is designed to target criminal enterprises involved in the domestic sex trafficking of children. This program brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and social service providers together with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to address the problem.

Law enforcement agencies taking part in Operation Cross Country IV in the Portland-metro area include: the FBI, Portland Division; Portland Police Bureau; Vancouver Police Department; Hillsboro Police Department; Beaverton Police Department; Gresham Police Department; Tigard Police Department; Eugene Police Department; the Washington County Sheriff’s Office; the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office; Multnomah County Parole and Probation; the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Victim assistance professionals, therapists, and/or child protective service caseworkers from the following agencies provided services to the children:  FBI; Portland Police Bureau; the Multnomah and Washington County District Attorney’s Offices; the Sexual Assault Resource Center; Lifeworks Northwest; New Options for Women;  Multnomah County Department of Community Justice (Juvenile Services Division); Washington County Department of Human Services; Clackamas County Department of Human Services; the Oregon Department of Human Resources and the YWCA. This effort was coordinated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force.

You can read more about Operation Cross Country and the Innocence Lost Initiative at www.fbi.gov.

- FBI National Press Release - Operation Cross County IV