Cross Country Operation X Recovers 82 Children from Being Trafficked for Sex
Local Operation Recovers Nine Children, Arrests 11 Traffickers
The FBI’s Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force (RMILTF) and other local law enforcement partners went after sex traffickers who put children up for sale in Colorado and Wyoming last week, arresting 11 pimps and 32 customers and recovering nine children.
“Child sex traffickers exploit our kids and crush their hopes, their self-esteem, and their futures. They're never the same after being trafficked. Our most important job is to recover them and ensure they have resources moving forward,” said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers. “Thanks to our many partners for their collaborative efforts last week, because of their commitment to this operation, many children now have a chance for a better life.”
The RMILTF launched an intensive, three-day effort last week at hotels, trucks stops, on street corners and on social media apps to target the traffickers. The youngest child recovered was 14 years old. This effort was in coordination with the FBI’s 10th annual nationwide operation targeting child sex traffickers, known as Operation Cross Country.
In one case, two pimps were caught driving two females, one a juvenile and one an adult, across the Midwest, selling them for sex along the way. When they arrived in Denver, the two victims were advertised on a sex website. Police answered the ad instead of Johns. The men were arrested for human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude.
Victim advocates provided the juveniles with food, clothing, shelter, smf medical assistance and connected them with needed resources, such as counseling.
“The satisfaction which today we jointly feel for jobs well done is greatly tempered by the realization that the hard work of ending human trafficking has only begun. Our greatest challenges lie ahead. Tomorrow’s prostitutes and sexual victims are today’s boys and girls,” said 18th Judicial District Attorney George H. Brauchler. “It is for them and their better futures that we will continue to invest time, effort, and resources. To those who view the young and fragile as commodities who seek to profit from sacrificing their innocence and bodies to satisfy the sexual appetites of the lascivious and twisted, we say only this: Stop immediately. We are here, and we are coming for you.”
This year, the RMILTF noticed an increase in the use of dating, meeting, and "hook-up" social media apps to exploit and prostitute children. The FBI urges parents to know what your kids are doing online. You can get tips from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website and its NetSmartz411 program.
Tragically, it’s estimated as many as 2,000 youth in Colorado and Wyoming are exploited sexually every year.
“This task force approach is the only effective way to save children and put these despicable criminals behind bars,” said Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. “We know we can make a difference when we put our resources together.”
The Colorado and Wyoming operation ranked second in the nation for child recoveries during this year’s Operation Cross Country. (Milwaukee took 11 children off the streets, compared to Colorado and Wyoming, which rescued nine.) Across the two states, more than 280 law enforcement personnel ran 21 stings.
“The Denver Police Department, along with the other law enforcement agencies who participated in Operation Cross Country, are encouraged about the number of children recovered during the operation, but saddened that there are still many out there being victimized,” said Denver Police Chief Robert C. White. “We must continue our efforts to bring home others who are victims of these horrible crimes and arrest those who commit them.”
The RMILTF includes the FBI Denver Division, the Aurora and Denver Police Departments, the Arapahoe and Douglas County Sheriff’s Offices, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, and the Colorado State Patrol. Several other local law enforcement agencies participated in this year’s Operation Cross Country.
In 2015, the crackdown ran for six days, and the RMILTF and their law enforcement partners recovered 20 children from sex trafficking, which were the most recoveries in the nation. Nationwide in 2015, 149 underage victims were recovered, and 153 pimps were arrested.
From January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2015, the RMILTF arrested 102 people for trafficking and/or pimping-related offenses and 58 people for patronizing a prostituted child and/or sex assault on a child. In all, the RMILTF and other local law enforcement partners have recovered 293 juveniles (2012: 49, 2013: 61, 2014: 94, 2015: 89).
This year’s nationwide operation ran October 13 to 15. For the first time, the operation took place in several countries around the world, including Cambodia, Canada, the Philippines, and Thailand. It was conducted by the FBI and 500 law enforcement partners. The operation recovered 82 underage trafficking victims and 239 pimps. Operation Cross Country X is the largest ever in the history of the initiative, with 55 FBI field offices and 71 state and local task forces taking part in the operation in 106 cities across America.
“Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population,” said FBI Director Comey. “As part of this effort, we are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but, through our Office of Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape a from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”
The average age that someone gets into the sex trade is 13. Once they are in that world, statistics show they rarely get out. Traffickers can make $100,000 per year on each child. The pimps coerce, beat, and threaten them to stay in the sex trade. After entering the sex trade, the life expectancy of a prostitute is just seven years.
Operation Cross Country X is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost Initiative, which began in 2003. These teams work all year to recover minor trafficking victims. Since the inception of the program, there have been more than 6100 child identifications and locations.
Press conference participants:
- Calvin Shivers, acting special agent in charge FBI, Denver Division
- Ted Mink, deputy director, Colorado Bureau of Investigation
- George Brauchler, 18th Judicial District Attorney
- Peter Weir, 1st Judicial District Attorney
- Daniel Steele, Denver Police Department sergeant and RMILTF officer
Thirty-eight law enforcement agencies participated in this year’s Operation Cross Country X with the Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force including:
- Adams County District Attorney
- Alamosa Police Department
- Alamosa Sheriff’s Office
- Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office
- Arvada Police Department
- Aurora Police Department
- Boulder Police Department
- Boulder County Sheriff’s Office
- Casper Police Department
- Cheyenne Police Department
- Colorado Bureau of Investigation
- Colorado Springs Police Department
- Colorado Springs Legal Parole Office
- Colorado State Patrol
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- Denver Police Department
- Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
- Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney’s Office
- Evans Police Department
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- First Judicial District Attorney’s Office
- Fruita Police Department
- Ft. Collins Police Department
- Grand Junction Police Department
- Greeley Police Department
- Homeland Security Investigations
- Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office
- Johnstown Police Department
- Lakewood Police Department
- Larimer County District Attorney’s Office
- Longmont Police Department
- Mesa County Sheriff’s Office
- Ninth Judicial District Office
- Pueblo Police Department
- Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office
- Twentieth Judicial District Attorney’s Office
- U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement
- Westminster Police Department
- Wheat Ridge Police Department
- More information on Operation Cross Country and the Innocence Lost Initiative