Detroit had the second highest number of children rescued in Operation Cross County IX, a nationwide sex traffic sting that resulted in 149 sexually exploited children being rescued nationally, and 19 being recovered in the Metro Detroit area.
The sting, which involved 500 law enforcement agents nationally, resulted in the arrest of 150 adults — 12 of which were detained in the Metro Detroit area.
"Our office is pleased with the success of the operation in metro Detroit, but we, along with all of our law enforcement partners, do not stop here. This is all part of an ongoing effort to continue to free victims of human trafficking, and arrest the individuals that commit these crimes," FBI - Detroit Division Special Agent David P. Gelios said in a statement.
The sting was spearheaded by FBI and National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, and relied on local agencies, such as the Southeast Michigan's Crimes Against Children Task Force. Agents would frequent hotels, casinos and truck stops, and other locations with reputations for sex trafficking, in order to track down the children and pimps.
Video from WXYZ
, shows parts of the local sting. In one scene a women is arrested in a Detroit Quality Inn hotel room for her alleged role in the trafficking of the children. In other they enter a Metro Detroit house, where they also recovered a number of guns.
According to the FBI, recovered children are met with victim specialists from the FBI’s Office for Victim Assistance, who provide crisis intervention in addition to checks of basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention.
Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative, which was created in 2003 and has resulted in the recovery of 4,800 sexually exploited children in the past 12-years. This operation, which concluded this week, is the ninth sweep and is considered by the FBI to be the largest to date.
“Our mission is to protect the American people—especially our children—from harm,”FBI Director James Comey said in a statement about the sting.” When kids are treated as a commodity in seedy hotels and on dark roadsides, we must rescue them from their nightmare and severely punish those responsible for that horror. We simply must continue to work with our partners to end the scourge of sex trafficking in our country.”
Detroit's position as a hub for child sex trafficking is not new. When the FBI conducted its seventh Operation Cross County sting in 2013
, 10 children were rescued and 59 individuals were arrested in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Genesee Counties. In that sting, Detroit was also ranked second for the city with the highest number of juveniles rescued.