Operation Cross Country: 16 children rescued from sex trafficking

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Authorities announced Monday afternoon that more children were recovered from child sex trafficking as part of Operation Cross Country VIII.

They said from Sunday, June 15-Friday, June 20, the FBI and local, state and federal law officials conducted the operation, which included enforcement in the greater Cleveland and Northern Ohio area; 16 children who were being victimized through prostitution were recovered and 12 pimps were arrested.

Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI, Stephen Anthony said in a press release:  “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.”

Of the 16 juveniles, four were recovered in Toledo; one in Elyria; and 11 in Cleveland. Officials said all of them were sold as prostitutes.

The Cleveland office ranked second in the nation in the number of children recovered in the operation.

Authorities said 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.

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