FBI Seattle
Public Affairs Specialist Ayn Dietrich-Williams
(206) 622-0460
October 18, 2017

Eleventh FBI-Wide Operation Cross Country Arrests Three Suspected Sex Traffickers 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, arrested three subjects suspected of commercially exploiting children and/or adults, and of related crimes. The CETFs also contacted 32 adult females being exploited through prostitution. Some of the adults had been forced into prostitution as juveniles. The local operations were part of Operation Cross Country XI (OCC11).

Interviews with subjects promoting and adults engaged in prostitution provided significant leads toward identifying other juveniles that are being exploited through prostitution.

Operations took place October 12-15, 2017. Operations occurred in Burlington, Everett, Fife, Kent, Spokane, and throughout King, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, and Spokane 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. Two subjects were arrested in Kent on October 12 and one subject was arrested in Burlington on October 13.

The multi-agency CETFs, working with additional partnering agencies, made contact with young women who were offered in online ads for paid, sexual services. Undercover agents and detectives met them and interviewed them for information that could help identify and locate those responsible for their sexual exploitation.

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 11th iteration of the FBI-led initiative that took place across the United States and in several countries around the world. Law enforcement partners in Canada, United Kingdom, Cambodia, 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, Oak Harbor, 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), 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.
    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, the FBI and its partners have recovered more than 6,000 child victims.

Acknowledgments:

OCC11 was successful in Washington because of the partnership of more than 40 entities.

OCC11 relied on extraordinary support by the partners who hosted command posts for operations and/or provided significant resources. These include:

  • Everett Police Department
  • Fife Police Department
  • Kent Police Department
  • Mount Vernon Police Department

In addition to CETF members and command post hosts listed above, additional partners who participated in OCC11 in Washington were:

  • Bellingham Police Department
  • Burlington Police Department
  • FBI Salt Lake Division, Coeur d'Alene RA
  • Federal Protective Service (FPS)
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
  • Lynnwood Police Department
  • Marysville Police Department
  • Sedro-Wooley Police Department
  • Skagit County Sheriff's Office
  • Snohomish County Sheriff's Office – Special Investigations Unit
  • Snohomish Regional Drug & Gang Task Force
  • Spokane Regional Safe Streets Task Force
  • Thurston County Sheriff's Office (TCSO)
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • U.S. Marshals Service – Eastern District of Washington
  • Washington Department of Corrections (DOC)

Other government partners invaluable in the success of OCC11 in Washington were:

  • Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center
  • Kent Youth and Family Services
  • Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's Office (PCPAO)
  • Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse
  • Skagit Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services
  • Spokane County Prosecutor's Office
  • United States Attorney's Office – Eastern District of Washington
  • United States Attorney's Office – Western District of Washington
  • Washington Department of Corrections