Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Operation Cross Country 4

It's a tragedy that human trafficking exists at all. And it's terrifying to realize how close it is to our own front door. The good news is that Operation Cross Country 4 and the agencies that support this project are taking steps in the right direction.

from C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cleveland Division

Over the past week, the FBI, its local, state and federal law enforcement partners, along with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) concluded Operation Cross Country 4, a three day national enforcement action as part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative.

The operation included enforcement actions in 36 cities across 30 FBI field divisions around the country and led to the recovery of 52 children who were being victimized through prostitution. Additionally, 691 others, including pimps, were arrested on state and local charges.

The Northwest Ohio Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force (NWOVCACTF) was involved in this National Initiative in Allen, Fulton and Lucas Counties. As a result of the investigative activity conducted in Northwest Ohio, seven child victims were located and/or identified, four pimps were arrested, and seventeen other adults were arrested for their respective involvement in prostitution activities.

In addition, seven individuals were detained on immigration charges in Fulton County after information was developed that they were also involved in prostitution activities with juveniles at residences maintained by migrant farm workers. Additional charges are being considered by prosecutors including compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Victims as young as 10 and 13 years of age were identified as part of this investigation. The mother of the 13 year old has been charged with promoting prostitution.

The NWOVCACTF is comprised of investigators from the FBI, Toledo Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff's Office, Lima Police Department and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. The NWOVCACTF was also assisted by the Department of Homeland Security, United States Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Other assistance was provided by Lucas County Children Services and Lucas County Juvenile Probation.

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