FBI sting recovers 82 sexually exploited children; hundreds of traffickers arrested nationwide



SEATTLE — Authorities have made 14 arrests in connection with a prostitution operation involving more than 70 people, including five children, across Washington state.

Federal agents and several local agencies used undercover agents to make contact with the people involved. The arrests were made last week in more than a dozen cities across the state.

Operations locally took place Oct. 13-15 in Airway Heights, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Lakewood, Pasco, Spokane, Tukwila, and throughout King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.

The undercover operation is part of a wider FBI initiative being carried out in the U.S. and other countries, including Cambodia, Canada, the Philippines and Thailand.

Nationally, Operation Cross Country X recovered 82 sexually exploited juveniles and the arrests of 239 pimps and other individuals. The youngest recovered victim was 13 years old.

“Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population,” said FBI Director Comey, announcing the results of the operation during a press conference today in San Diego at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual gathering. “We are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office for Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”

The operation involved 55 FBI field offices and 74 FBI-led Child Exploitation Task Forces.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.