FBI Announces Results of Operation Cross Country XI
Underage Sex Trafficking Crackdown Leads to Recovery of 84 Minors
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), announced today that 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from October 12-15, 2017.
In Arizona, state, local and federal officials rescued four juveniles and arrested seven alleged traffickers as part of the operations based out of the Phoenix Field Office. Eighty-six adult victims were contacted and offered services.
“Operation Cross Country is a snapshot of time—the FBI works with state and local partners throughout the year to rescue children from this vicious lifestyle,” said Michael Caputo, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI Phoenix Field Office. “This crime has no boundaries and can impact any child, of any race or ethnicity, anywhere from large cities to small town communities. Initiatives like Operation Cross Country XI help spotlight the problem and send a message that we are committed to taking down those who prey on our country’s most innocent population.”
This is the 11th iteration of the FBI-led Operation Cross Country (OCC), which took place this year in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners. This year’s coordinated operations took place with several international partners, including Canada (Operation Northern Spotlight), the United Kingdom (Aident 8), Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It’s about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse.”
As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites. The youngest victim recovered during this year’s operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old. Minors recovered during Cross Country Operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as a number of other services.
“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We’re proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”
Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,500 child identifications and locations. For additional information on Operation Cross Country XI and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit www.fbi.gov.
OCCXI was successful in Arizona because of the partnership of the following partners:
- Phoenix Police Department
- Arizona Department of Public Safety
- Glendale Police Department
- Gilbert Police Department
- Tempe Police Department
- Scottsdale Police Department
- Mesa Police Department
- Chandler Police Department
- Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office
- Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office
- Coconino County Sheriff’s Office
- Navajo County Sheriff’s Office
- Prescott Valley Police Department
- Flagstaff Police Department
- Customs and Border Protection
- Homeland Security Investigations
- Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
- U.S. Attorney’s Office
- Arizona Attorney General’s Office
The FBI Phoenix Field Office also thanks several non-governmental entities that provided support during OCCXI. These entities include: A New Leaf Autumn House, MOMA’s House, Catholic Charities My Sister’s Place, New Life Shelter, Sojourner Shelter, and Community Bridges, UMOM, Arizona Department of Child Safety. Examples of stories from various cities that took part in Operation Cross Country XI:
- On October 13, FBI Denver recovered two minor girls—one 3-month-old and one five-year-old. The subject, a friend of the children’s family, offered an undercover officer access to the two children for sexual purposes in exchange for $600. The FBI is working with Child Protective Services to conduct a forensic interview and secure safe placement of the children. The subject was placed under arrest.
- Also on October 13, a 16-year old female victim was recovered by FBI El Paso after an undercover agent called an online advertisement for entertainment. Shortly thereafter, the agent met with a 21-year-old female, who offered a fee of $200 to engage in sexual intercourse with her and another female, the 16-year-old victim. Further investigations revealed that a second adult female drove the minor and the 21-year-old to the undercover agent’s location. Both female subjects have been arrested on federal charges.
Note to Editors: B-Roll and interviews associated with Operation Cross Country can be downloaded at www.fbi.gov/occxi.