Operation Cross County IX, an annual nationwide law
enforcement action aimed to curb underage sex trafficking recovered 149
sexually exploited children across the country and arresting more than150 pimps
and their associates. The youngest victim rescued during the week-long sting
was 12 years old.
ABC news reported Denver and Detroit topped the list of 135 cities
impacted by the sting with 20 children rescued from Denver and 19 children
rescued from Detroit.
The FBI's Innocence Loss program, in partnership with more
than 500 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and the National
Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), set up sting operations across the country in
hotels, casinos, truck stops, and other areas frequented by pimps over the
course of one week.
The FBI's Innocence Lost program has resulted in the
identification and recovery of approximately 4,800 sexually exploited children
since 2003. Prosecutors have obtained more than 2,000 convictions of pimps and
others associated with these trafficking crimes, where at least 15 cases have
resulted in life sentences.
"Our mission is to protect the American
people—especially our children—from harm," FBI Director James Comey said in a statement posted on the FBI's website." When
kids are treated as a commodity in seedy hotels and on dark roadsides, we must
rescue them from their nightmare and severely punish those responsible for that
horror. We simply must continue to work with our partners to end the scourge of
sex trafficking in our country."
Among other cities reporting high numbers of children
rescued from sex trafficking during Operation Cross County IX were Milwaukee,
Las Vegas and Houston.
"Human trafficking is a monstrous and devastating
crime that steals lives and degrades our nation," shared Attorney General Loretta
Lynch on the FBI's website. "As a result of the FBI's outstanding coordination and exemplary efforts
alongside state and local partners during Operation Cross Country, more children
will sleep safely tonight, and more wrongdoers will face the judgment of our
criminal justice system."