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ECSO assists FBI in Operation Cross Country

POSTED: June 26, 2014 6:43 p.m.

ATLANTA — During the past week, the FBI Atlanta Field Office, along with its Macon, Augusta, and Savannah Resident Agencies and their associated Child Exploitation Task Forces, conducted law enforcement operations in support of Operation Cross Country VIII to address commercial child sex trafficking throughout the U.S.

The operation included enforcement actions in and around Atlanta, Macon, Augusta and Savannah, and led to 11 recoveries of juveniles who were being victimized through prostitution or other computer based exploitation.

Additionally, 71 individuals were arrested on various state charges to include pimping, criminal attempt child molestation/enticement of a minor, prostitution, and solicitation.

“The FBI’s commitment and dedication toward the protection of our nation’s children is clearly demonstrated in this latest national initiative and its primary objective of recovering juveniles being exploited and arresting those exploiting them,” said J. Britt Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI Atlanta field office. “This is not an easy endeavor and the extensive participation and support from our various law enforcement partners is not only appreciated but is very much needed for these initiatives to be successful.”

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office also participated in this Operation Cross Country.

The FBI Atlanta Office thanked its law enforcement partners participating in Operation Cross Country VIII and their ongoing enforcement efforts regarding child exploitation matters. Those agencies include: Marietta PD, Department of Juvenile Justice, Cobb County PD, Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, Atlanta PD, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, Gwinnett PD, Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office, Dekalb County PD, Dekalb County District Attorney’s Office, Hapeville PD, Clayton County PD, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, Clayton County District Attorney’s Office, Clayton County Solicitor’s Office, Sandy Springs PD, Smyrna PD, Alpharetta PD, U.S. Attorney’s Office/Northern District of Georgia, Bibb County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Pooler PD, Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Hinesville PD, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Pardons and Parole, and the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services.

Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative 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.

To date, 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.

These FBI-led task force operations usually begin as local enforcement actions that target truck stops, casinos, street “tracks,” and Web sites 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 develop 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.

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