News

Child Trafficking Sting

Jul 2, 2008

Nearly 400 people were arrested on child trafficking charges and 21 children were recovered in a five-day, 16-city sweep last month. More than 350 state, local and federal law enforcement agencies participated in “Operation Cross Country.” The targeted cities spanned the country, ranging from Boston to Miami to San Francisco, and the goal was to rescue children and identify the organized networks that target and traffic them.

“The sex trafficking of children remains one of the most violent and unforgivable crimes,” said FBI Director Robert Mueller afterward. “What is different as we stand here today is that we are faced with the increasing use of social network sites and other advances in technology to carry out these crimes and facilitate these criminal enterprises.”

“Child trafficking for the purposes of prostitution is organized criminal activity using kids as commodities for sale or trade,” said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “These kids are victims. They lack the ability to walk away. This is 21st Century slavery.”

The sting was the largest in the history of the five-year-old Innocence Lost National Initiative. In partnership with the Child Exploitation-Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division formed the initiative in 2003 to address the growing problem of children forced into prostitution. It has recovered 433 children to date.

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