Operation Cross Country X Expands Efforts to Recover Sexually Exploited Juveniles, Multiple International Countries Included for the First Time
This past week, the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF) in Utah recovered one juvenile being victimized through sex trafficking. The rescued juvenile is not from Utah and is currently in the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services. Efforts are now being made to reunite the victim with her family, who lives out of state.
The three-day long operation was part of Operation Cross Country X (OCC10). Operations took place October 13 to 15, 2016 in the Salt Lake Valley and Ogden, Utah and in Missoula and Billings, Montana.
Operations were also conducted in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in support of authorities in Spokane, Washington. The results of those operations are being reported by the FBI Seattle Field Office.
The FBI and its partners made contact with young women and adults involved in prostitution through the use of undercover agents and detectives canvassing websites that advertise prostitution and areas known for prostitution.
In addition to the juvenile who was recovered, the CETF in Utah also arrested three women on warrants and cited six others for prostitution. Some of the women may have been forced into engaging in prostitution since they were juveniles or trafficked but it’s not uncommon for them to refuse to disclose that information to authorities.
In Montana, the FBI and its partners arrested one woman for alleged prostitution and a male associate, accused of violating a protective order against her. He may have also been facilitating prostitution.
In all cases, the women were made aware of and offered services within the community.
The annual OCC operation is part of an ongoing strategy to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. This year, efforts occurred in 55 field offices and for the first time, with international partners from Canada, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
Agents in the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office conduct sex trafficking investigations every day. While there are victims from Utah, the nature of this crime is that pimps and their victims travel throughout the nation to engage in prostitution and do not necessarily live in the area where they are located by authorities. This nationwide initiative allows the FBI and its partners to cast a broad net for a better opportunity to identify, locate, and recover victims before they are moved to another area.
OCC is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003. These teams work all year to recover minor trafficking victims. Since the program’s inception, more than 6,100 children have been identified and recovered.
OCC10 was successful in Utah and Montana because of the strong partnerships with local agencies.
In Utah, our partners were Salt Lake City Police Department, Adult Probation and Parole, Homeland Security Investigations, Ogden Police Department, Ogden Metro Gang Unit, the Utah Department of Public Safety, Weber County Sheriff’s Office, and the Davis County Attorney’s Office.
In Montana, our partners were Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Billings Police Department, Missoula Police Department, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, Missoula Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and U.S. Marshals Service.