Four Local Juveniles Rescued from Prostitution During Operation Cross Country V
|FBI Tampa November 08, 2010|
TAMPA—Over the past 72 hours, local law enforcement agencies concluded their investigative efforts in conjunction with Operation Cross Country V, a three-day national enforcement action as part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative. The operation included enforcement actions in 40 cities throughout the nation and led to the recovery of 69 children who were being victimized through prostitution. Additionally, nearly 885 others, including 99 pimps, were arrested on state and local charges.
Locally, four juveniles were rescued and 35 adults arrested during the weekend sweep. The four children resided in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. The participating agencies included the Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Clearwater Police Department, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the FBI.
Task Force operations usually begin as local actions, targeting such places as truck stops, casinos, street “tracks,” and Internet websites, based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions. Initial arrests are often violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested often uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. Investigators further develop this information in partnership with U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and file federal charges where appropriate.
To date, the 39 Innocence Lost Task Forces and Working Groups have recovered over 1,200 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 625 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including multiple 25-years-to-life sentences and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.
In the spring of 2003, the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice’s CEOS and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), formed the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address the growing problem of children forced into prostitution.
This program brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers all from around the country to NCMEC, where the groups are trained together. In addition, CEOS has reinforced the training by assigning prosecutors to help bring cases in those cities plagued by child prostitution.
The charges announced today are merely accusations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.