FBI-led operation rescues 82 children from prostitution rings

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An international effort focusing on underage sex trafficking ran from Oct. 13 – 16. Its name was Operation Cross Country X.

Over those three days, the FBI’s Kansas City Division, along with local, state, and federal law enforcement departments, focused on eight cities in Kansas and Missouri. Those cities included Kansas City, North Kansas City, and Independence in Missouri; and Overland Park, Wichita, Topeka, Junction City, and Kansas City in Kansas.

The effort led to the recovery of five children, ranging in age from 15 to 17, who were being victimized through prostitution. Officers also rescued four women who were human trafficking victims. The operation led to arrests of 12 pimps and 14 johns on state and federal charges.

This is the 10th iteration of this FBI-led initiative, which took place across the United States and, for the first time, also in several other countries. Law enforcement partners from Cambodia, Canada, The Philippines, and Thailand had operations in their respective countries. FBI Director James Comey and the National Center for Missing and exploited Children (NCMEC) announced those results last weekend at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) convention in San Diego.

Operations took place in a number of locations, including hotels, truck stops, and street corners. When officers rescue minors from prostitution services, they’re referred to state protective services and victim assistance programs. Depending on the level of need, a law enforcement officer and, if available, an FBI Victim Specialist will accompany the survivor to obtain these services. Any adult arrested pursuant to state charges will be processed by state and local law enforcement partners assisting in Operation Cross Country.

Operation Cross Country X is the largest ever in the history of the initiative, with 55 FBI field offices and 74 Child Exploitation Task Forces representing more than 400 law enforcement organizations taking part in the operation. Several dozen operations also took place across Canada, and approximately 10 operations took place in six cities across Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Officers rescued 82 minors in the United States and arrested 239 traffickers and their associates. In Canada, as part of a corresponding effort called Northern Spotlight, authorities recovered 16 children, while in Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines, authorities recovered 25 children, including a 2-year-old girl.

Operation Cross Country X is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost Initiative, which began in 2003. These teams work all year to recover minor trafficking victims. Since the inception of the program, there have been more than 6,100 child identifications and locations.
For additional information on Operation Cross Country X and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit www.fbi.gov.