FBI Announces Results of Operation Cross Country X
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and representatives from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) have announced that, domestically, 82 minors were rescued and 239 traffickers and their associates were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country X, an international effort focusing on underage human trafficking, which ran from October 13 to 16, 2016.
This is the 10th iteration of FBI-led initiative, which took place across the United States and, for the first time, also in several countries around the world. Law enforcement partners from Cambodia, Canada, the Philippines, and Thailand had operations in their respective countries. In Canada, as part of a corresponding effort called Northern Spotlight, authorities recovered 16 children, while in Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines, authorities recovered 25 children, including a 2-year-old girl.
“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 from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”
Operations took place in a number of locations, including hotels, truck stops, and street corners. Minors recovered during an arrest are engaged with state protective services and victim assistance. Depending on the level of need, a law enforcement officer and, if available, an FBI victim specialist will accompany the survivor to obtain these services. The FBI’s Philadelphia Division announced that 15 pimps and associates were arrested as part of the takedown.
The Philadelphia Division partnered with the Philadelphia Police Department; Tinicum Township Police Department; Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division; Pennsylvania State Police; Upper Merion Township Police Department; Montgomery County Detective Bureau; Fairview Township Police Department; Northern York County Regional Police Department; Harrisburg Bureau of Police; Lower Paxton Police Department; Lancaster Bureau of Police; Steelton Borough Police Department; York County Sheriff’s Office; and York County District Attorney’s Office in support of Operation Cross Country X.
“Each year, Operation Cross Country shines a spotlight on the scourge of child sex trafficking,” said Michael Harpster, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Sadly, children are being sexually exploited in our area—and across the country—every single day. The FBI and its partners on our Child Exploitation Task Forces will never stop working to find and free them and ensure traffickers are brought to justice. Anyone being victimized like this, or with knowledge of child sex trafficking, can leave us an anonymous tip; call 1-800-CALL-FBI or go online to tips.fbi.gov.”
Operation Cross Country X is the largest ever in the history of the initiative, with 55 FBI field FBI field offices and 74 Child Exploitation Task Forces representing more than 400 law enforcement organizations taking part in the operation. In addition, several dozen operations across Canada, and approximately 10 operations took place in six cities across Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
“Child sex trafficking is a global problem and we must throw every resource we can at combating it,” said NCMEC Director John Clark. “All of us at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are proud to work side by side with the FBI and their law enforcement partners as we work tirelessly every day to find and rescue child victims and while ensuring that those responsible for this horrible crime are held accountable.”
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 6,000 child identifications and locations.