WASHINGTON – On Monday 168 kids were rescued from sex trafficking as part of a nation-wide investigation known as Operation Cross Country VIII, the FBI announced.
Rebecca Wu, a spokesperson for the FBI, says local, state and federal law enforcement partners and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children took part in the week-long operation, which became the largest and most successful Operation Cross Country. The investigation included 106 cities, including areas in Illinois and Missouri. Pimps were arrested from both states and two child victims were saved in Illinois.
FBI Director James B. Comey said this was the eighth time the FBI coordinated an operation against sex trafficking. The nationwide campaign targeted places ranging from casinos, to truck stops to pornography stores.
"Targeting and harming America's children through commercial sex trafficking is a heinous crime, with serious consequences," Comey said in a press release. "Every child deserves to be safe and sound. Through targeted measures like Operation Cross Country, we can end the cycle of victimization."
The fight against child prostitution began in 2003 when the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, created the Innocence Lost National Initiative. Operation Cross Country was a part of this initiative.
In the last 11 years the FBI has saved nearly 3,600 children from the streets.