FBI Denver
Public Affairs Specialist Deborah Sherman
(303) 630-6060
October 13, 2015

Denver Task Force Recovers Most Children from Trafficking in Nationwide Sting

Officials from the FBI and 500 law enforcement partners announced today that 149 underage trafficking victims were recovered and 153 pimps were arrested in a nationwide human trafficking operation conducted throughout the United States last week. The initiative, dubbed Operation Cross Country IX, is a national effort spearheaded by the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, along with state and local law enforcement partners across the country. The initiative targets the criminal enterprises responsible for the commercial sex trafficking of children.

The youngest victim in this year’s operation was 12 years old. Of the 149 victims recovered, three of those minors were transgender, and three were males. During the operation, 90 victim specialists provided on-scene direct services to the victims of sex trafficking, while 105 child victims received on-site direct services, which may have included crisis intervention and resources for basic needs like medical, food, clothing and shelter. Due to the size of the operation, FBI victim specialists coordinated with local law enforcement victim advocates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who provided additional support to the victims.

In Denver, FBI officials announced that 20 underage victims were recovered and seven pimps were arrested as part of the takedown. The operation was conducted in Colorado and Wyoming. In one case, the operation rescued a 14-year-old girl who was being trafficked for sex on Colfax by a gang member. Today, she has reconciled with her family and is in a treatment program.

Of 135 cities participating in the operation, Denver ranks first for the number of juveniles recovered from trafficking. This is the second year in a row the local operation recovered more juveniles than any other city in the country.

“Human trafficking is a monstrous and devastating crime that steals lives and degrades our nation,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “As a result of the FBI’s outstanding coordination and exemplary efforts alongside state and local partners during Operation Cross Country, more children will sleep safely tonight, and more wrongdoers will face the judgment of our criminal justice system. The Department of Justice will continue to aggressively and persistently fight this heinous crime, and to hold its perpetrators accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Operation Cross Country IX is the largest in the nine-year history of the initiative, with 53 FBI field offices and 73 Child Exploitation Task Forces, which include federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, taking part in the operation in 135 cities across America, including Colorado and Wyoming. Nationwide, more than 500 law enforcement officials, including investigators and officers from federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations, conducted both “in-call” and “out-call” operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops, and in other areas known to be frequented by both prostitutes, sex-traffickers, and their customers.

“We’re not playing around. If you’re caught hurting and trafficking our children, we’ll do everything we can with prosecutors to put you behind bars forever and take away your freedom,” Thomas P. Ravenelle, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Denver Division, said.

Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost national initiative, which began in 2003. Since the program’s inception, more than 4,800 children have been recovered from underage prostitution and prosecutors have obtained more than 2,000 convictions, including at least 15 that have resulted in life sentences. For additional information on Operation Cross Country IX and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit www.fbi.gov.

Also today, SAC Ravenelle recognized four local and state prosecutors for their outstanding work fighting exploitation and prosecuting traffickers. They were each presented with a certificate of appreciation signed by FBI Director James Comey, along with an Innocence Lost patch and a unit challenge coin.

“Thanks to prosecutors, the public gets the message loudly and clearly that trafficking our children won’t be tolerated. The law is going to throw the book at you. Our prosecutors have ensured that traffickers are getting life sentences for their abuse of children,” FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle said. “There is nothing more important to us than protecting children.”

The award winners are:

  • Deputy District Attorney Cara Morlan of the 18th Judicial District Office
  • Dawn Weber, Chief Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Cold Case Unit & the Human Trafficking Unit for Second Judicial District
  • Senior Assistant Attorney General Janet Drake at the Colorado Attorney General’s Office
  • Deputy District Attorney Katie Kurtz of the First Judicial District

Forty law enforcement agencies participated in this year’s Operation Cross Country with the Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force including:

  • Adams County Sheriff’s Office
  • Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office
  • Arvada Police Department
  • Aurora Police Department
  • Blackhawk Police Department
  • Broomfield Police Department
  • Casper Police Department
  • Central City Police Department
  • Colorado Bureau of Investigation
  • Colorado Springs Police Department
  • Colorado State Patrol
  • Denver Police Department
  • Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
  • Edgewater Police Department
  • El Paso County Sheriff’s Office
  • Englewood Police Department
  • Evans Police Department
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Fruita Police Department
  • Ft. Collins Police Department
  • Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office
  • Glendale Police Department
  • Golden Police Department
  • Grand Junction Police Department
  • Greeley PD Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office
  • Glendale Police Department
  • Golden Police Department
  • Grand Junction Police Department
  • Greeley Police Department
  • Greenwood Village Police Department
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • RM Innocence Lost Task Force
  • Jefferson County DA’s Office
  • Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lakewood Police Department
  • Loveland Police Department
  • Mesa County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ninth Judicial District Office
  • Pueblo Police Department
  • Pueblo Sheriff’s Office
  • Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation
  • Greenwood Village Police Department
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • RM Innocence Lost Task Force
  • Jefferson County DA’s Office
  • Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lakewood Police Department
  • Loveland Police Department
  • Mesa County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ninth Judicial District Office
  • Pueblo Police Department
  • Pueblo Sheriff’s Office
  • Teller County Sheriff’s Office
  • US Marshals Service
  • Vail Police Department
  • Wheat Ridge Police Department

Press conference participants:

  • Thomas P. Ravenelle, Special Agent in Charge FBI—Denver Division
  • Michael Rankin, Director, Colorado Bureau of Investigation
  • 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler and Deputy District Attorney Cara Morlan
  • Second Judicial District Attorney Mitch Morrissey and Dawn Weber, Chief Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Cold Case Unit & the Human Trafficking Unit
  • First Judicial District Attorney Peter Weir and Deputy District Attorney Katie Kurtz
  • Senior Assistant Attorney General Janet Drake, First Assistant Attorney General of the Special Prosecutions Unit Rob Shapiro, Chief of Staff Melanie Snyder and Director of Community Engagement Jose Esquibel from the Office of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman
OCC IX Results
Field Office Child Victims Recovered Pimps Arrested

Albany

0 1
Albuquerque 0 1
Anchorage 0 0
Atlanta 7 7
Baltimore 1 2
Birmingham 0 1
Boston 1 0
Buffalo 2 1
Charlotte 1 0
Chicago 3 0
Cincinnati 1 0
Cleveland 4 1
Dallas 5 3
Denver 20 7
Detroit 19 12
El Paso 0 0
Houston 8 3
Indianapolis 1 1
Jackson 2 4
Jacksonville 1 0
Kansas City 4 8
Knoxville 0 2
Las Vegas 9 0
Little Rock 0 7
Los Angeles 4 3
Louisville 0 1
Memphis 2 0
Miami 1 0
Milwaukee 9 8
Minneapolis 0 5
Mobile 1 0
Newark 4 1
New Haven 0 0
New Orleans 3 7
New York 2 7
Norfolk 1 4
Oklahoma City 1 4
Omaha 2 3
Philadelphia 2 2
Phoenix 3 7
Pittsburgh 0 2
Portland 3 3
Richmond 1 3
Sacramento 5 8
St. Louis 0 0
Salt Lake City 0 0
San Antonio 4 0
San Diego 0 0
San Francisco 6 7
Seattle 3 11
Springfield 0 0
Tampa 6 6
Washington Field Office 0 0
Total 152 153

 

Related story and raw footage:
- Operation Cross Country: Recovering Victims of Child Sex Trafficking