10th FBI-Wide Operation Cross Country Recovers Five Juvenile Victims in Washington State
More Than 40 Law Enforcement Partners Participate in Cities Statewide
This past week, three Child Exploitation Task Forces (CETFs) in Washington State, along with other local partners, recovered five juveniles and contacted 67 adults being exploited through prostitution. Some of the adults had been forced into prostitution as juveniles. The local operations were part of Operation Cross Country X (OCC10).
In Washington State, the CETFs arrested 14 subjects suspected of commercially exploiting children and/or adults and related crimes. Interviews with subjects and adults engaged in prostitution provided significant leads toward identifying other juveniles that are being exploited through prostitution. The CETFs recovered drugs and several vehicles during the operations.
Operations took place October 13 to 15, 2016. Operations occurred in Airway Heights, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Lakewood, Pasco, Spokane, Tukwila and throughout King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. Victims and the pimps travel throughout eastern and western Washington to work and do not necessarily reside in the area where they were located this week.
The multi-agency CETFs, working with additional partnering agencies, made contact with young women involved in prostitution through the use of undercover agents and detectives and by canvassing areas where street prostitution is known to occur.
All the victims were offered referrals to and information on a variety of services within the community, such as job training, housing, counseling, and medical and education assistance. Immediate medical and safety needs were addressed.
This is the 10th iteration of the FBI-led initiative that took place across the United States and, for the first time, also took place in several countries around the world. Law enforcement partners from Cambodia, Canada, the Philippines, and Thailand held operations in their respective countries.
The annual OCC operation is one element of an ongoing strategy to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). CETFs in Washington conduct investigations and operations throughout the state, year-round. A challenging element of this criminal activity, though, is that pimps and their victims often travel throughout the nation to engage in prostitution and do not necessarily reside in the area where they are located by authorities. By focusing efforts nation-wide during a specified period of time, the FBI and its partners are able to cast a broad net for a better opportunity to identify, locate, and recover victims before they are moved to another area. Additionally, gathering intelligence from nearly simultaneous operations helps CETFs further understand this crime.
The FBI Seattle Division works with law enforcement partners on three dedicated Child CETFs in Washington State, based in Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma.
- The North-Central Sound CETF is a partnership between the FBI, the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Mt. Vernon, Port of Seattle, SeaTac, Seattle, and Tukwila Police Departments.
- The South Sound CETF in Tacoma is a partnership between the FBI, Washington State Patrol (Missing & Exploited Children’s Task Force and High Tech Crimes Unit), Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Lakewood Police Department, Tacoma Police Department, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
- The Spokane CETF is a partnership between the FBI, Spokane Police Department, and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
This year, the North-Central Sound CETF included operations targeting individuals looking to pay for sex with minors. This operation led to the arrest of two men seeking to pay for sex with a law enforcement officer posing as a 15 year old.
CETFs provide a rapid and effective investigative response to reported federal crimes involving the exploitation of children. The task forces strive to reduce the vulnerability of children to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, and to strengthen the capabilities of federal, state, and local law enforcement through training programs and investigative assistance.
OCC is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost initiative, which began in 2003 and is now international. Since the program’s inception, there have been more than 6000 child recoveries..
OCC10 was successful in Washington because of the partnership of more than 40 entities.
OCC10 relied on extraordinary support by the partners who hosted command posts for operations and/or provided significant resources. These include Bellevue Police Department, Kent Police Department, Lakewood Police Department, Spokane Police Department, Tukwila Police Department, and Snohomish County Fire District 1.
In addition to CETF members listed above, additional partners who participated in OCC10 were:
- FBI Honolulu Division
- FBI Salt Lake Division, Coeur d’Alene Resident Agency
- Federal Protective Service (FPS)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
- Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI)
- Kalispel Tribal Police Department
- Pasco Police Department
- Pierce County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD)
- Port of Seattle Police Department (POSPD)
- Seattle Police Department (SPD)-VICE and High Risk Victims Unit
- Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office-Special Investigations Unit
- Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force
- Spokane Regional Safe Streets Task Force
- Thurston County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO)
- U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS)
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Washington State Patrol (WSP)
- Washington State Patrol’s Missing & Exploited Children’s Task Force (WSP-MECTF)
Other government partners invaluable in the success of OCC10 in Washington were:
- Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
- King County Juvenile Probation Office
- King County Prosecutor’s Office
- Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office (KCPO)
- Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office (PCPO)
- United States Attorney’s Office-Eastern District of Washington
- Washington State Department of Children and Family Services
- Washington Department of Corrections
- Washington State Gambling Commission