Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently concluded another round in a nationwide effort against child prostitution. Begun in 2003, the coordinated effort is called Operation Cross Country. The most recent crackdown, which occurred over a 72-hour time period, resulted in at least 35 arrests in Florida alone.
The charges that will be brought against the handlers, or pimps, in charge of the alleged trafficking may be quite serious. Trafficking is a felony sex crime. A sex crimes lawyer might suggest that each criminal defendant should be tried and sentenced according to the unique circumstances surrounding his case, rather than relying on past precedents. However, the default approach adopted by prosecutors seems to be very aggressive. Previous convictions arising from the national initiative have resulted in life sentences.
The FBI’s national effort relied not only on the coordination of local enforcement officials, but also on individual consumers reporting suspicious Internet activity. A website called Backpage, for example, includes a statement against sex trafficking on its online classified site, as well as details on how to contact a national center for missing children. As readers may recall, the website came under scrutiny recently because of its adult advertising section -- including a section devoted to escorts.
The assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division also confirmed that FBI officials also monitored social media sites for potential sex trafficking. Of course, some personnel were also assigned to more traditional investigative methods, such as street patrols.
In this round of arrests, FBI officials report that 105 teenagers were rescued from prostitution roles. To date, FBI officials claim that the initiative has rescued more than 2,700 young teens and/or children from this illegal lifestyle.
Source: kansascity.com, “Nationwide FBI raids save 105 teens from child prostitution,” Michael Doyle, July 29, 2013