Home Tampa Press Releases 2014 168 Juveniles Recovered in Nationwide Operation Targeting Commercial Child Sex Trafficking

168 Juveniles Recovered in Nationwide Operation Targeting Commercial Child Sex Trafficking

FBI Tampa June 23, 2014
  • Special Agent Dave Couvertier (813) 253-1033

During the past week, the FBI; its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners; and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) conducted Operation Cross Country VIII (OCC-VIII), a week-long enforcement action to address commercial child sex trafficking throughout the United States. This operation included enforcement actions in 106 cities across 54 FBI field divisions nationwide and resulted in 168 recoveries of children who were being victimized through prostitution. Additionally, 281 pimps were arrested on state and federal charges.

“Child prostitution remains a major threat to children across America,” said Paul Wysopal, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office. “It is a violent and deplorable crime, and we are working with our partners to disrupt and put behind bars individuals who sexually exploit children.”

Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and NCMEC, to address the growing problem of child prostitution.

“Operation Cross Country reveals that children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day,” said John Ryan, president and CEO of NCMEC. “We’re proud to partner with the FBI and provide support to both law enforcement and victim specialists in the field as they help survivors take that first step toward freedom.”

To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered nearly 3,600 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 1,450 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 14 life terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.

Task force operations usually begin as local enforcement actions that target truck stops, casinos, street “tracks,” and websites that advertise dating or escort services, 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 frequently uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further develop this evidence in partnership with U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section so that prosecutors can help bring federal charges in those cities where child prostitution occurs.

The Innocence Lost National Initiative partners with NCMEC to provide training for state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from across the country.The FBI thanks its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners representing 392 separate agencies for their ongoing enforcement efforts and participation in Operation Cross Country VIII.

The following list denotes FBI divisions, not necessarily actual cities, where juveniles were recovered and pimps were arrested. The Tampa Division is responsible for an 18 county region within Central and Southwest Florida.

FBI Division Juveniles Recovered Pimps Arrested

Albany

0

0

Albuquerque

0

0

Anchorage

0

3

Atlanta

11

15

Baltimore

2

5

Birmingham

1

3

Boston

0

0

Buffalo

2

0

Charlotte

0

3

Chicago

13

4

Cincinnati

0

1

Cleveland

16

12

Columbia

1

2

Dallas

2

2

Denver

18

11

Detroit

5

6

El Paso

0

1

Houston

4

4

Indianapolis

4

3

Jackson

2

19

Jacksonville

0

1

Kansas City

2

7

Knoxville

0

1

Las Vegas

7

2

Little Rock

2

5

Los Angeles

10

12

Louisville

0

4

Memphis

2

5

Miami

3

4

Milwaukee

6

12

Minneapolis

1

9

Mobile

0

0

Newark

1

8

New Haven

1

1

New Orleans

3

17

New York

3

3

Norfolk

0

1

Oklahoma City

2

14

Omaha

1

2

Philadelphia

0

2

Phoenix

5

21

Pittsburgh

0

3

Portland

1

2

Richmond

0

2

Sacramento

9

7

Salt Lake City

0

0

San Antonio

6

3

San Diego

2

6

San Francisco

6

13

Seattle

4

13

Springfield

2

1

St. Louis

0

1

Tampa

8

3

WFO

0

2

Total

168

281


Participating agencies:

The Tampa Police Department, Orlando Police Department, Apopka Police Department, Sarasota Police Department, Pinellas Park Police Department, Largo Police Department, St. Petersburg Police Department, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida State Attorney’s Offices, Homeland Security Investigations, and the FBI Child Exploitation Task Forces.

FBI Tampa Division Statistics:

Eight juveniles, ages 15 to 17 years old, were locally recovered during OCC VIII. One juvenile was located in Orlando, one in Fort Myers, and six in the Tampa Bay area.

During OCC VII in 2013, three juveniles were rescued and a total of 19 children were recovered between OCC 1 and OCC VII.

To learn more about Operation Cross Country and the Innocence Lost National Initiative, visit www.fbi.gov, www.justice.gov, or www.ncmec.org.

Anyone with information about commercial child sex trafficking is asked to call the FBI Tampa Field Office at 1-866-838-1153 (toll-free).

Resources:

- National press release
- Related FBI.gov story