Innocence Lost National Initiative Nets 19 Arrests
Innocence Lost Arrests
National Crackdown on Child Prostitution
Innocence Lost Arrests
|FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker briefs the media on the arrests and charges in the latest Innocence Lost sweep. Looking on is John Rabun, vice president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.|
As part of an ongoing federal effort to eradicate child prostitution through the Innocence Lost initiative, the Department of Justice and the FBI on Friday announced the arrest of 19 people across the country on numerous charges related to the sexual exploitation of children.
More importantly than the arrests, federal agents and local law enforcement officials were able to identify more than 30 child victims. Since the FBI launched the Innocence Lost National Initiative in June 2003, officials have identified more than 200 victims.
“The FBI and its partners cannot restore the innocence lost from those children who are lured into childhood prostitution,” said Chris Swecker, assistant director for the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division. “These children are victimized twice: first by the handler who exploits them and secondly by the individual who solicits them.”
Swecker appeared with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, and John Rabun, vice president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The arrests were the result of comprehensive investigations by task forces operating under the initiative, which is overseen by the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Unit.
The FBI established task forces in 14 cities with the highest incidence of child prostitution. Local task force members include federal and local law enforcement, social service agencies, prosecutors and are trained by the NCMEC.
The investigations are intensive and intelligence-driven and rely on sophisticated techniques as well as developing informants and witnesses. Overall, the initiative has led to more than 500 arrests, 100 indictments, and 67 convictions.
“But the true impact of the Innocence Lost initiative can only be measured in human terms—in the lives of young children. We have a responsibility to protect America’s children, so we’re continuing to track down those who would steal away their hopes and dreams in this despicable manner,” Attorney General Gonzales said.
In addition to the 19 arrests, we are looking for 11 people who have been charged but remain at large.
The crimes are heinous. Some of the alleged perpetrators ran sophisticated and violent prostitution rings that crossed state lines. The interstate nature of the crimes makes it paramount to use the task forces.
*In Detroit, Michigan, law enforcement dismantled two prostitution rings. In one case, three defendants were charged on 27 counts, including the trafficking of children for sex, transporting minors for sex, sexual exploitation of children and other charges. In the other, four individuals were indicted on numerous charges.
*In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a 33-count indictment was unsealed against 16 defendants. One of the victims was a 12-year-old girl.
*In Atlantic City, N.J., we charged eight people for numerous crimes. One of the accused pimps is thought to operate in New Jersey, New York, Boston, Miami and Las Vegas.
More details of the charges are available on this press release.
In addition to the arrests, law enforcement seized assets including homes, vehicles, cash, electronics, jewelry, and child pornography.