Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
Note: Relevant video can be found here.
Underage Sex Trafficking Crackdown Leads to Recovery of 84 Minors
On Oct. 18, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), announced that 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from Oct. 12 to 15.
The Attorney General made the following statement on this crackdown:
“Every American has the right to be safe from violence and exploitation, and it is the mission of this Department to help secure that right. Today we take the next step toward that mission with the arrest of more than 120 alleged sex traffickers and the recovery of more than 80 trafficking survivors.
“I want to thank and commend the dedicated men and women of the FBI, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and our local, state and international law enforcement partners who made these arrests and rescues possible. They have delivered results that make this country safer and show clearly that collaboration makes us more effective in combating child exploitation.
“The Justice Department will continue to pursue our mission and, to that end, we will remain tireless in our efforts to rescue victims and put those who victimize children behind bars.”
From the FBI Release:
This is the 11th iteration of the FBI-led Operation Cross Country (OCC), which took place this year in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners. This year’s coordinated operations took place with several international partners, including Canada (Operation Northern Spotlight), the United Kingdom (Aident 8), Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."
As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites. The youngest victim recovered during this year’s operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old. Minors recovered during Cross Country Operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as a number of other services.
“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We’re proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”
Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,500 child identifications and locations. For additional information on Operation Cross Country XI and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit www.fbi.gov.
Examples of stories from various cities that took part in Operation Cross Country XI:
On October 13th, FBI Denver recovered two minor girls—one 3-month-old and one 5-year-old. The subject, a friend of the children's family, offered an undercover officer access to the two children for sexual purposes in exchange for $600. The FBI is working with Child Protective Services to conduct a forensic interview and secure safe placement of the children. The subject was placed under arrest.
Also on October 13th, a 16-year old female victim was recovered by FBI El Paso, after an undercover agent called an online advertisement for entertainment. Shortly thereafter, the agent met with a 21-year-old female, who offered a fee of $200 to engage in sexual intercourse with her and another female, the 16-year-old victim. Further investigations revealed that a second adult female drove the minor and the 21-year-old to the undercover’s location. Both female subjects have been arrested on federal charges.
Note to Editors: B-Roll and interviews associated with this year’s operation can be downloaded at www.fbi.gov.