Last week the FBI, partnering with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, released their results from Operation Cross Country, a nationwide sweep to rescue victims and arrest pimps. About 500 law enforcement officials from federal, state, and local branches carried out both in-call and out-call operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops, and in other areas known to be frequented by sex buyers, sex traffickers, and those selling sexual services.
- 149 underaged victims of sex trafficking were recovered (3 of whom were male)
- The youngest victim was 12 years old
- 153 pimps were arrested
- Two pimps are still on the loose
Operation Cross Country is an annual initiative and 2015 marked its ninth year. This was the biggest bust yet.
Read the full FBI release here.
- It’s very difficult for trafficking victims to get away, and sometimes direct intervention like this is precisely what is needed to access them.
- In the U.S. there is still a tendency to treat those who are selling sex as criminals. For example, if a woman is selling sex (especially if she is over 18), she will most likely be arrested. This is something that must change, regardless of the person’s age.
- Arresting pimps is key, but since they’re in it for the money, going after their assets and their cash is what they really feel. The money should be redistributed to victims to help with the costs of aftercare and rehabilitation.
- Sometimes victims think their trafficker is their boyfriend, adding another layer of difficulty as it leads some to defend their own exploitation.