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Operation Cross Country saved 168 children from prostitution

Wednesday, Jun. 25 | By Julie Taylor
Last week, the FBI recovered 168 children who were victim to sex trafficking. Two officers from The Fauquier County Sheriff's Office participated in the operation as they are also members of the FBI Washington Field Office Crimes Against Children Task Force, according to Lt. Hartman of the Fauquier office.

The intense, week-long recovery spanned 106 U.S. cities. 168 child victims of prostitution were retrieved. 281 pimps were arrested on state and federal charges.

These operations usually begin when local law enforcement physically targets high traffic areas, and searching websites for escort and dating services.

Though Fauquier law enforcement participated in the effort, Hartman said there were no violators in our county this year.

“Targeting and harming America’s children through commercial sex trafficking is a heinous crime, with serious consequences,” said FBI Director James B. Comey. “Every child deserves to be safe and sound. Through targeted measures like Operation Cross Country, we can end the cycle of victimization.”

The operation was established in 2003 by the FBI in conjunction with other groups in an effort to address the growing problem of child prostitution.

“Operation Cross Country reveals that children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day,” said John Ryan, President and CEO of partnering group National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “We’re proud to partner with the FBI and provide support to both law enforcement and victim specialists in the field as they help survivors take that first step toward freedom.”

Almost 3,600 children have been recovered form the streets by these groups, and in turn, 1,450 convictions have been made—including 14 life terms.

“Child sex traffickers create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims,” said Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. “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.”

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