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Operation Cross Country: FBI Busts 120 Sex Traffickers & Rescues Dozens of Sexually Exploited Children

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Published on: October 21, 2017

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Operation Cross Country has just completed its eleventh iteration and according to the FBI, they recovered 84 sexually exploited juveniles and arrested 120 traffickers.

According to the FBI’s website, “Operation Cross Country has expanded beyond the United States, with Canada, the United Kingdom, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand undertaking similar operations. Their efforts were coordinated with the FBI and its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners—along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)—during the four-day law enforcement action that ended October 15.”

Operation Cross Country 2017 involved 55 FBI field offices and 78 FBI-led Child Exploitation Task Forces composed of more than 500 law enforcement agencies. The sting operations were conducted in hotels, casinos, truck stops, and through social media sites frequented by pimps, prostitutes, and their customers.

More than 100 victim specialists provided on-scene services that included crisis intervention as well as resources for basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention.

One of the highlights of the operation involved FBI Denver’s Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force.  They recovered a 3-month-old girl and her five-year-old sister after a friend who was staying with the family made a deal with an undercover task force officer to sell both children for sex in exchange for $600.

“The threat of child sex trafficking is something the FBI works on every single day,” said Calvin Shivers, special agent in charge of the Denver Division. “Operation Cross Country gives us the opportunity to shine a light on this threat and to educate the public.” He added that while the focused law enforcement action has “an immediate impact” of recovering a significant number of juvenile victims, “we recognize that there is a lot more work to be done to identify and recover even more victims.”

The FBI formed the Innocence Lost National Initiative in 2003. Since its creation, the program has resulted in the identification and recovery of more than 6,500 children from child sex trafficking and the prosecution of countless traffickers, more than 30 of whom have received life sentences for their crimes.

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work.”

“This operation isn’t just about taking traffickers off the street,” FBI Director Wray said. “It’s about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse.”

“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America,” said John Clark, the CEO of NCMEC. “We are working to combat this problem every day,” he explained, adding that NCMEC is “proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims.”

You know, I’m glad these children were recovered.  I’m glad that human traffickers are being apprehended.  I’m not happy about life sentences.  I think the death penalty applies here.

However, what I’m more concerned about is that this is the same FBI that operates child porn websites.  They disseminate and exploit children in the same manner the people they arrest do.

I reported in August 2016:

For two weeks in the spring of 2015, the FBI was one of the largest purveyors of child pornography on the internet.

After arresting the North Carolina administrator of The Playpen, a “dark web” child-pornography internet bulletin board, agents seized the site’s server and moved it to an FBI warehouse in Virginia.

They then initiated “Operation Pacifier,” a sting and computer-hacking operation of unparalleled scope that has thus far led to criminal charges against 186 people, including at least five in Washington state.

The investigation has sparked a growing social and legal controversy over the FBI’s tactics and the impact on internet privacy. Some critics have compared the sting to the notorious Operation Fast and Furious, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed the illegal sales of thousands of guns to drug smugglers, who later used them in crimes.

Defense attorneys and some legal scholars suggest the FBI committed more serious crimes than those they’ve arrested — distributing pornography, compared with viewing or receiving it.

Court documents specify that as many as 100,000 people logged onto the site.

Jacob Sullum points out, “Each time the FBI “distributed” an image, it committed a federal crime that is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 20 years. So did the person who “received” the image, which in the Internet context is the same as looking at it. If such actions merit criminal punishment because they are inherently harmful, there is no logical reason why the agents who ran The Playpen should escape the penalties they want to impose on the people who visited the site.”

So, when are we going to see prosecution of every single federal agent involved in Operation Pacifier, as well as any DOJ participants?

In a follow-up to the report I wrote on the FBI’s engaging in operating a child porn site out of North Carolina, which was termed Operation Pacifier, an affidavit was filed at the end of October that the FBI ran 23 different Tor-hidden child porn sites in order to “catch,” or the better word would be “entrap,” those who wished to view or share child pornography.

According to the affidavit:

In the normal course of the operation of a web site, a user sends “request data” to the web site in order to access that site. While Websites 1-23 operate at a government facility, such request data associated with a user’s actions on Websites 1-23 will be collected. That data collection is not a function of the NIT. Such request data can be paired with data collected by the NIT, however, in order to attempt to identify a particular user and to determine that particular user’s actions on Websites 1-23.

The truth is that they are committing these crimes. How did the FBI obtain the child porn they are distributing? We already know that in the central government, thousands of Pentagon employees have been caught looking at porn and never been dealt with properly, not to mention a DHS official who was busted on Craiglist in a child porn sting.

Not only is this a problem when it comes to morality and ethics, but the subsequent arrests and charges are compromised as the FBI failed to share with the court exactly how Operation Pacifier was conducted.

The FBI claims that during the two weeks The Playpen was run, visitors accessed, posted or traded some 48,000 images, 200 videos and 13,000 links to child porn. The agents then invaded computers to gather personal information using a secret “Network Investigative Technique.”

Lest you think this is something limited to the FBI, I recently reported that a major international police operation to entrap child predators involved a deep dark website that was secretly run by police.

In that report, Jon Rouse, detective inspector, and investigator Paul Griffiths had been running the website “Child’s Play” for at least three months.

Police exploiting children and using that exploitation as bait to apprehend criminals doing the same thing they are doing is wrong.

 

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