CLEVELAND -- It is the 2nd largest sex trafficking recovery in the U.S.
From Sunday, June 15 through Friday, June 20, the FBI and its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners conducted Operation Cross Country VIII to address commercial child sex trafficking throughout the United States.
The operation included enforcement actions in cities throughout the Greater Cleveland and Northern Ohio area and led to the recovery of 16 children who were being victimized through prostitution.
Additionally, 12 pimps were arrested on state and federal charges.
Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to address the growing problem of child prostitution.
To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 3,400 children from being exploited. The investigations and subsequent 1,450 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 14 life terms.
In the past week alone, law enforcement recovered four juveniles in Toledo, one in Elyria and 11 in Cleveland. All of these children were sold as prostitutes.
The Cleveland office ranked second in the nation with the number of children recovered in this operation. The Denver Office of the FBI recovered 18 children.
The FBI thanks its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners who participated in Operation Cross Country VIII and their ongoing enforcement efforts.
Stephen Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI said, "The success of this operation in Northern Ohio areas is unprecedented. Selling children for sex is a heinous crime and will not be tolerated. Protecting children is one of the FBI's highest priorities and working together at all levels of law enforcement, such as we did in Operation Cross Country, makes it possible to identify, rescue and provide services for those children who become victims of crime."