FBI Richmond and Local Law Enforcement Partner for Operation Cross Country VIII
Today, Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Lee of the Richmond Division of the FBI announces the Division joined forces with our state and local law enforcement partners last week to conduct investigations pursuant to Operation Cross Country VIII.
This afternoon, FBI Director James B. Comey hosted a national press conference addressing the cumulative efforts nationwide of Operation Cross Country VIII—the largest enforcement action to date focusing on the recovery of children sexually exploited through prostitution. Operation Cross Country, a national undercover operation, is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Innocence Lost National Initiative established in 2003.
To date, the FBI and its task force partners across the nation 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. Fortunately, the Richmond Division’s Cross Country VIII operation did not reveal any child victims last week. Two pimps and 26 prostitutes, however, were arrested on various state charges.
Task force operations usually begin as local law 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 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 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 help bring federal charges in those cities where child prostitution occurs.
The Richmond Division of the FBI works closely and frequently with our law enforcement partners across the state to address child sex trafficking, but we would like to thank the Henrico County Division of Police, the City of Richmond Police Department, the Chesterfield County Police Department, the Lynchburg Police Department, and the Virginia State Police for specifically partnering with us during Operation Cross Country VIII.
Innocence Lost National Initiative
What is the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative?
- The Innocence Lost National Initiative addresses the growing problem of children recruited into prostitution. This initiative is supported by the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (DOJ/CEOS) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
- Since the 2003 inception of the Innocence Lost Initiative, over 2,600 investigations have been opened resulting in over 1,450 convictions and over 3,400 child recoveries. Substantial sentences of convicted pimps have been obtained, including 14 life sentences and several ranging in length from 25-50 years.
- Since the inception of the ILNI, the FBI has partnered with state and local agencies to form 69 Child Exploitation Task Forces (CETF) throughout the country.
- Field offices focus their resources on criminal enterprises engaged in the transportation of juveniles for the purpose of prostitution using intelligence driven investigations and employing sophisticated investigative techniques, such as Title III wiretaps.
- The FBI coordinated Operation Cross Country I-VII between June 2008 and July 2013. Operation Cross Country is a national enforcement operation conducted over three to five day periods, to combat domestic commercial sexual exploitation of children through prostitution. FBI field divisions and their law enforcement partners, participated in the operation by targeting venues such as street tracks, Internet, truck stops, motels, and the casinos where children are prostituted.
- Through these seven enforcement operations, officers from over 500 state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies, joined together to rescue child victims and apprehend those who victimize them. As a result of these operations, 434 child victims were safely recovered and 581 pimps engaged in the commercial sexual exploitation of children were arrested.
- Since 2003, the VCACU has partnered with NCMEC to host the Protecting Victims of Child Prostitution (PVCP) training course. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors have received this training on the comprehensive identification, intervention, and investigation of the commercial sexual exploitation of children.