FBI Innocence Lost

FBI Innocence Lost

ICE helps FBI rescue 4 juveniles from prostitution in Tampa Bay during Operation Cross Country

TAMPA, Fla. - As members of the Clearwater Area Human Trafficking Task Force, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents and officers in Tampa assisted the FBI locally to rescue four juveniles and arrest 35 adults over the past 72 hours during Operation Cross Country V, a three-day national enforcement action as part of the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative.

The operation included enforcement actions in 40 cities throughout the nation and led to the recovery of 69 children who were being victimized through prostitution. Additionally, nearly 884 others, including 99 pimps, were arrested on state and local charges.

The four local children who were rescued resided in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Other participating agencies in the operation included the Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Clearwater Police Department, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

To date, the FBI's 39 Innocence Lost Task Forces and Working Groups have recovered over 1,200 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 625 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including multiple 25-years-to-life sentences and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.

In the spring of 2003, the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice's CEOS and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), formed the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address the growing problem of children forced into prostitution. This program brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers all from around the country to NCMEC, where the groups are trained together. In addition, CEOS has reinforced the training by assigning prosecutors to help bring cases in those cities plagued by child prostitution.

ICE's participation in the Clearwater Area Human Trafficking Task Force is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678


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