The FBI Denver Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force and local, state, and federal partners recovered 27 victims of sex trafficking during the recent nationwide campaign called “Operation Cross Country.”
The initiative, in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, focused on identifying and locating victims of sex trafficking and investigating and arresting individuals and criminal enterprises involved in both child sex and human trafficking.
The operation in Colorado recovered eight juvenile and 19 adult victims of sex trafficking. Additionally, 14 children were located, five traffickers were arrested, and eight other traffickers were identified for further investigation. More than 40 agencies and organizations from across Colorado participated in the 2-day push in July.
The Denver Task Force is one of 89 nationwide. In Denver, they work with an intelligence-driven multidisciplinary team that takes a trauma-informed, victim-centered approach. This methodology reduces the trauma that survivors can experience. Identified youths meet with victim specialists who assess victims and provide services to meet their immediate needs. Recovered victims are linked with community, state and federal resources.
“Child sex trafficking exists here, in our community. Our Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force works with local, state, and federal partners — as well as community partners and service providers — to proactively combat this heart-breaking crime,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek. “Our multidisciplinary team and intelligence-driven approach continues to be successful in recovering children who have been victimized by traffickers. We will never stop in our efforts to bring child sex traffickers to justice and help victims get to a safe place and receive the services they need.”
A 16-year-old girl who was recovered from this year’s operation was being trafficked by her father in exchange for drugs. Another recovered minor had been reported missing by her foster family and was found in a hotel with a known trafficker. These and other children were reunified with parents or guardians and provided support services by the various Juvenile Assessment Centers, our child welfare partners, and service providers.
Partners are critical to Operation Cross Country’s success and the year-round work of the Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.
Whenever the FBI receives intelligence that a child is or might be a victim of human trafficking, they try to identify and locate the child victim or notify appropriate state and local partners for assistance. This task force operates all year, not just during Operation Cross Country.
The FBI encourages continued vigilance, cooperation, and reporting from the public to help identify and recover victims and bring perpetrators to justice.