OPERATION CROSS COUNTRY VII
A task force made up of forty-seven FBI divisions, more than 3,900 law enforcement officers, from local, state, and federal, to agents representing 230 separate agencies teamed up with the (NCMEC) National Center for Missing and Exploited Children — as part of the Bureau’s ( Innocence Lost National Initiative).
This three-day nationwide enforcement action targeted the people responsible for the trafficking , forced prostitution, abuse, and in some cases even torture of under-age victims.
This united effort spanning 76 cities nation-wide concluded with an astounding 150 arrests of both pimps and other persons of interest — and most importantly the rescue of 105 teenagers, being used as prostitutes — the youngest being only 13 years old. This has now been the largest and most successful enforcement action to date.
Human trafficking is not new news; however the actual numbers are heinous and appalling.
There are at least 27 million slaves in the US today, more than any other time period in history — including pre-abolition. Annually 800,000 people trafficked onto US territory via it’s borders. Of those 800,000 — 90% are women and young female children — with 70% of those woman and children being trafficked for the sole purpose of being forced into the ( commercial sex-slave industry ). If that stomach turning data wasn’t enough — how about the realization that according to the (NCMEC) — 50% of that 70% are children.
One such victim was not only rescued in this past sting, but was also a key component to the success of it. With her help and cooperation, agents posing as johns, and websites used for the advertising of prostitution — this impressive three-day action served it’s purpose and then some.
“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America” said Ron Hosko, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. He also stated that ” this operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen ANYWHERE — and that the FBI are committed to stopping this cycle of victimization, and holding the criminals that profit from this exploitation accountable.”
Since it’s 2003 beginnings, The Innocence Lost National Initiative has resulted in, the identification and recovery of more than 2,700 children — who have been sexually exploited.
Ron Hosko also explained that most runaways turn to prostitution for money… “With no way to survive on their own, they are trapped into a life of being trafficked — trapped into this cycle, that involves drugs, it involves physical abuse, and may even involve torture — so that they are tied to the pimp.”
One such victim is Alexandria a.k.a. Alex, a runaway — who at first stayed with family and friends — eventually finding herself on the street and desperate. Alex then turned to prostitution as a way to supply her basic needs — just for survival. Soon she was at the mercy of a pimp. In an interview Alex bravely admits what her experience was like. She tells the interviewer that ” At first it was terrifying, and then…..You just become numb to it” — “You put on a whole different attitude” — like a different person. “It wasn’t me.”
Two years into her painful ordeal, Alex contacted the FBI, and became a very important asset in helping to bring down two pimps, while also helping to facilitate the rescue of several under-age victims.
Even through all the bad, inconceivable, and life altering things she endured — Alex is now on her own and thriving — with a positive attitude and outlook on life, as well as her future. Since her rescue she has received her high school diploma, and plans on attending college. Her future goals include becoming an advocate for victims of sexual exploitation.
Watch her interview here:
“They had my past but not my future” – Alex
The sex industry is a multi-million dollar business — no matter what state the economy is in, struggling or not — SEX-STILL-SELLS…. But this is not a case of to each his own, The phrase “what happens behind closed doors, is none of OUR business.” — does NOT apply! What are your opinions on this topic? Here and Sphere would love to hear from you………
Written By: Heather Cornell / Here and Sphere