This past week, three Child Exploitation Task Forces (CETFs) in Washington State, along with other local partners, arrested three subjects suspected of commercially exploiting children and/or adults, and of related crimes. The CETFs also contacted 32 adult females being exploited through prostitution. Some of the adults had been forced into prostitution as juveniles. The local operations were part of Operation Cross Country XI (OCC11).
Interviews with subjects promoting and adults engaged in prostitution provided significant leads toward identifying other juveniles that are being exploited through prostitution.
Operations took place October 12-15, 2017. Operations occurred in Burlington, Everett, Fife, Kent, Spokane, and throughout King, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, and Spokane 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. Two subjects were arrested in Kent on October 12 and one subject was arrested in Burlington on October 13.
The multi-agency CETFs, working with additional partnering agencies, made contact with young women who were offered in online ads for paid, sexual services. Undercover agents and detectives met them and interviewed them for information that could help identify and locate those responsible for their sexual exploitation.
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 11th iteration of the FBI-led initiative that took place across the United States and in several countries around the world. Law enforcement partners in Canada, United Kingdom, Cambodia, 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.