Five Juveniles Recovered and 21 Pimps Arrested in Statewide Operation Targeting Commercial Child Sex Trafficking
During the past week, the FBI, along with its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, conducted Operation Cross Country VIII to address commercial child sex trafficking throughout the United States. The operation included enforcement actions in various cities throughout Arizona and led to the recovery of five children and 42 adults who were being victimized through prostitution. Additionally, 21 pimps and 41 johns were arrested on state and federal charges and victim services were offered to both child and adult victims of commercial sex trafficking.
Operation Cross Country (OCC) 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, to address the growing problem of child prostitution.
Douglas G. Price, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Phoenix, stated, “Although OCC is focused on the recovery of juvenile victims, the FBI and our law enforcement partners utilized this enforcement action to also contact adult victims of commercial sex trafficking and offer victim services to them. We utilized this initiative to target johns and pimps in a concerted effort to reduce demand and arrest/prosecute those responsible for exploiting women and children. The law enforcement community of Arizona will continue to work collaboratively to combat the crime of commercial sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children through prostitution. Women are not for sale in Arizona.”
To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 3,560 children from being exploited. The investigations and subsequent 1,450 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 14 life terms. This year’s initiative resulted in the recovery of 168 children and the arrest of 281 pimps.
Task force operations began as local enforcement actions which targeted 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 violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested frequently uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further developed 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 help bring federal charges in those cities where child prostitution occurs.
The FBI thanks the following agencies who participated in Operation Cross Country VIII and their ongoing enforcement efforts to address this serious crime problem: Arizona Department of Public Safety, Chandler PD, Glendale PD, Homeland Security Investigations-Yuma, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Mesa PD, Phoenix PD, Pima County SO, Scottsdale PD, Tempe PD, United States Attorney’s Office, United States Border Patrol, and Yuma PD.