For Immediate Release
February 23, 2009 Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
Forty-Eight Children Recovered in Operation Cross Country III
During the past week, the FBI joined our law enforcement partners in a three-day national enforcement action as part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative. This operation, known as Operation Cross Country III, included enforcement operations in 29 cities across the country and led to the recovery of 48 children being prostituted domestically. Additionally, 571 criminals were arrested on a combination of state and federal charges for the domestic trafficking of children for prostitution and solicitation.
“We continue to pursue those who exploit our nation’s children,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III. “We may not be able to return their innocence but we can remove them from this cycle of abuse and violence.”
In the spring of 2003, the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Child Exploitation-Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), formed the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address the growing problem of children forced into prostitution. This program brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers all from around the country to NCMEC, where the groups are trained together. In addition, CEOS has reinforced the tr aining by assigning prosecutors to help bring cases in those cities plagued by child prostitution. To date, the 32 Innocence Lost Task Forces and Working Groups have recovered 670 children. The investigations and subsequent convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including multiple 25-years-to-life sentences and the seizure of more than $3 million in assets.