Operation Cross Country XI, Salt Lake City
This past weekend, the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF) in Utah and the Salt Lake City Police Department Organized Crime Unit arrested an adult male trafficker (pimp) on suspicion of exploitation of a prostitute. The FBI and its partners also made contact with seven women involved in prostitution. The women were made aware of and offered services within the community.
The four-day long operation was part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that resulted in the recovery of 84 minors and arrest of 120 traffickers. Operations took place in the Salt Lake Valley from October 13-15, 2017 and in Billings, Montana from October 12-15, 2017.
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 Montana, the FBI and its partners made no arrests but conducted interviews to ensure the women being advertised for sex were not victims of human trafficking. In all cases, the women were made aware of and offered resources 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 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.
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. In addition, the intelligence gained from simultaneous operations conducted across the country gives investigators a better understanding of the criminal threat.
OCC XI 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 6,500 children have been identified and recovered.
OCC XI was successful in Utah and Montana because of the strong partnerships with local agencies.
In Utah, our partners were: Salt Lake City Police Department, the Utah Department of Public Safety, and the Division of Juvenile Justice Services.
In Montana, our partners were: Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Billings Police Department, Missoula Police Department, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Montana Juvenile Probation and Parole, Montana Probation and Parole, LifeGuard (non-profit), Montana Child and Family Services, Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office, and Victim Services from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.