Two Juveniles Recovered in Mississippi Operation Targeting Commercial Child Sex Trafficking
Beginning Thursday evening, June 19, 2014, and continuing through Saturday, June 21, 2014, the FBI and its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners conducted Operation Cross Country VIII to address commercial child sex trafficking throughout the United States. In Mississippi, the operation included enforcement actions in seven cities, and led to the recovery of two children who were being victimized through prostitution, and the arrests of 19 pimps. Additionally, 53 other individuals were arrested on state and local charges.
“Child prostitution is a real threat to children across America, and right here in Mississippi—not just in other countries,” said Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi. “Through Operation Cross Country, the FBI and its partners in law enforcement emphasize their commitment to identifying and rescuing any child who is being victimized in this heinous enterprise.”
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 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), to address the growing problem of child prostitution.
To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 3,400 children from being exploited. The investigations and subsequent 1,450 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 14 life terms. Mississippi, participating in Operation Cross Country VII, recovered one juvenile victim in 2013.
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 for violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested frequently reveals organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further develop this evidence in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section so that prosecutors can bring federal charges in those cities where child prostitution occurs.
The Innocence Lost National Initiative brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from across the country to NCMEC for training.
The FBI’s Jackson Division thanks the local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, representing 13 separate agencies, who participated in Operation Cross Country VIII in Mississippi, and commends their ongoing enforcement efforts. Those agencies are:
- Mississippi Attorney General’s Office
- Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics
- Gautier, MS Police Department
- Jackson, MS Police Department
- Jackson County Sheriff’s Office
- Madison County Sheriff’s Office
- Moss Point, MS Police Department
- Ocean Springs, MS Police Department
- Pascagoula, MS Police Department
- Pearl, MS Police Department
- Rankin County Sheriff’s Office
- Ridgeland, MS Police Department
- Tupelo, MS Police Department