San Antonio, TX — During the past four days, the FBI together with several 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 the Austin and San Antonio areas and led to the recovery of six children (three in each area) who were being victimized through prostitution. Additionally, three pimps were arrested (one in San Antonio and two in Austin) on state and federal charges.
Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative which was established in 2003 by the FBI’s Law Enforcement Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), to address the growing problem of child prostitution.
To date, through nationwide efforts, 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.
Since October 1, 2013 seventeen children have been rescued during FBI enforcement actions in the San Antonio Division. Over the past year, the number of victim recoveries has increased in the San Antonio Division and throughout the nation.
Task force operations usually begin as local enforcement actions that target truck stops, casinos, street “tracks,” and websites that advertise dating or escort services, based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions. Initial arrests are often violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation.
Information gleaned from those arrested frequently uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further developed this evidence in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section so that prosecutors can help bring federal charges in those cities where child prostitution occurs.
The Innocence Lost National Initiative brings local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from across the country to NCMEC for training.
San Antonio FBI thanks its law enforcement partners, representing more than thirteen separate agencies, which participated in Operation Cross Country VIII and continue their ongoing enforcement efforts.
Agencies which participated in Austin area enforcement operations included Austin Police Department, Texas Attorney General’s Office – Law Enforcement Division, Travis County Sheriff’s Department, Travis County District Attorney’s Office, Travis County Attorney’s Office, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Agencies which participated in San Antonio area enforcement operations included San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff’s Department, Bexar County Juvenile Probation Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, New Braunfels Police Department and Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.