FBI Operation Cross-Country recovers five Washington children from sexual exploitation

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This past week, three Child Exploitation Task Forces (CETFs) in Washington State, along with other local partners, recovered five juveniles and contacted 67 adults being exploited through prostitution. Some of the adults had been forced into prostitution as juveniles. The local operations were part of Operation Cross Country X (OCC10).

In Washington State, the CETFs arrested 14 subjects suspected of commercially exploiting children and/or adults, and related crimes.

Interviews with subjects and adults engaged in prostitution provided significant leads toward identifying other juveniles that are being exploited through prostitution. The CETFs recovered drugs and several vehicles during the operations.

Operations took place October 13-15, 2016. Operations occurred in Airway Heights, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Lakewood, Pasco, Spokane, Tukwila, and throughout King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.

Victims and the pimps travel throughout eastern and western Washington to work and do not necessarily reside in the area where they were located this week.

The multi-agency CETFs, working with additional partnering agencies, made contact with young women involved in prostitution through the use of undercover agents and detectives and by canvassing areas where street prostitution is known to occur.

All the victims were offered referrals to and information on a variety of services within the community, such as job training, housing, counseling, and medical and education assistance. Immediate medical and safety needs were addressed.

This is the 10th iteration of the FBI-led initiative that took place across the United States and, for the first time, also took place in several countries around the world. Law enforcement partners from Cambodia, Canada, the Philippines, and Thailand held operations in their respective countries.

The annual OCC operation is one element of an ongoing strategy to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). CETFs in Washington conduct investigations and operations throughout the state, year-round. A challenging element of this criminal activity, though, is that pimps and their victims often travel throughout the nation to engage in prostitution and do not necessarily reside in the area where they are located by authorities. By focusing efforts nation-wide during a specified period of time, the FBI and its partners are able to cast a broad net for a better opportunity to identify, locate, and recover victims before they are moved to another area. Additionally, gathering intelligence from nearly simultaneous operations helps CETFs further understand this crime.

The FBI Seattle Division works with law enforcement partners on three dedicated Child CETFs
in Washington State, based in Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma.

The North-Central Sound CETF is a partnership between the FBI, the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Mt. Vernon, Port of Seattle, SeaTac, Seattle, and Tukwila police departments.


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