07282017Headline:

FBI Rescues 168 Child Trafficking Victims, Arrests 281 Pimps

The FBI recently rescued 168 children from sexual trafficking, and arrested 281 pimps.
beautiful teenager girl

11-year-old kids

Do you remember being 11 years old? I do, a little. I was in the 6th grade. It was kind of a big deal, because I got to transfer over to the “big kid” half of the school building, with the 8th graders (who were almost in high school). I got to lord it over all the 4th and 5th graders in the little kid building.

I had a crush on my teacher’s son, who sat across from me in class. I thought I was superior to girls who had horses on their binders. I wore simple white canvas sneakers every day. Whenever I got a new pair, one of my friends would try to step on them, dirtying them up with an evil grin as I tried to dance away from her feet. I cried to my mom when my friends didn’t invite me to do something that seemed very important, and my mom pretended like it was actually very important.

All in all, it was a typical American 11-year-old experience (if there is such a thing).

 

The FBI rescues kids from prostitution

This week, on June 23, the FBI published a press release stating that they’d rescued 168 child sex trafficking victims. The youngest was 11.

They also arrested 281 pimps.

This was part of Operation Cross Country. 54 FBI field divisions were involved, as well as 392 law enforcement agencies, and 106 cities—a record for the Operation, which takes place annually. This is its eight year.

It’s hard to believe that child sex trafficking happens at home. But check out the list of FBI divisions involved (at the bottom of this page), and see if there’s one in (or near) your city. It was in my home city and my current city. It was in Anchorage, for god’s sake. It’s everywhere.

 

How does this happen?

It happens in different ways to different children. It happens at truck stops, motels, casinos, on the street, in businesses that serve as a front for brothels, and even in residences. These days, it especially happens on the internet.

Nicole, 17, tells how she was trafficked in an article published the 23rd, in tandem with the press release. Nicole was a good kid. She describes herself as a regular teenager, who didn’t really do bad things and always came home on time.

But her family life went south, and she started hanging out with an older guy. He paid a lot of attention to her, spent time with her, took her shopping. “He was gorgeous and he had charm,” Nicole said. “I didn’t really think he was going to turn out to be . . .” Nicole couldn’t finish that statement easily, because he turned out to be a pimp. He forced Nicole into prostitution and beat her to ensure she complied.

“Child sex traffickers create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims. They use fear and force and treat children as commodities of sex to be sold again and again. This operation puts traffickers behind bars and rescues kids from their nightmare so they can start reclaiming their childhood.”

— Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice

All sex trafficking is heinous. Anyone, whether they’re officially an adult or not, can be coerced, threatened, systematically abused, and forcibly prostituted. But it’s particularly disgusting when this is done to children.

Many of them are so abused, and without resources, they can’t even be convinced that they need to get away. Their only hope is for law enforcement to get them out. Nicole said, “I didn’t have money, I didn’t have a house, I didn’t have a bank account, I didn’t have my own car. I didn’t have anything.” How is a child to get out of this situation, especially faced with daily physical and sexual abuse, threats, and manipulation?

So the Operation Cross Country’s actions are a big victory. Even so, there’s always more work to be done. Human trafficking is one of the most common criminal industries in the world, and it just seems to be gaining ground. Reports like the FBI’s recent press release indicate that law enforcement is getting better about recognizing and stopping trafficking . . . but it could also mean that trafficking itself is on the rise.

 

What is Operation Cross Country?

Operation Cross Country is run by the Innocence Lost National Initiative (part of the FBI), partnered with the DOJ and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Over the years, the FBI and its partners have rescued about 3,600 children from trafficking. They have made about 1,450 convictions, including 14 life sentences, and have seized over $3.1 million in assets.

Here’s a list of FBI divisions involved in the recent Operation Cross Country action:

  • Albuquerque
  • Anchorage
  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore
  • Birmingham
  • Boston
  • Buffalo
  • Charlotte
  • Chicago
  • Cincinnati
  • Cleveland
  • Columbia
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Detroit
  • El Paso
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Jackson
  • Jacksonville
  • Kansas City
  • Knoxville
  • Las Vegas
  • Little Rock
  • Los Angeles
  • Louisville
  • Memphis
  • Miami
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis
  • Mobile
  • Newark
  • New Haven
  • New Orleans
  • New York
  • Norfolk
  • Oklahoma City
  • Omaha
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh
  • Portland
  • Richmond
  • Sacramento
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Springfield
  • St. Louis
  • Tampa
  • Washington DC

***

L. Marrick is a fiction writer and freelance copywriter. 50% of proceeds from her book Working Girl, a memoir of her time working for a professional escort, go to sex trafficking non-profits. She waxes poetic about swords and the Renaissance Faire at her author blog. She looks all professional-like at her copywriting site. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @LMarrick.

© L. Marrick 2014. The content of this article, except for quoted or linked source materials, is protected by copyright. Please contact the author at the above links to request usage.


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