Press Release, 8 November 2010: Over the past 72 hours, the FBI, its local and state law enforcement partners, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children concluded Operation Cross Country V, a three-day national enforcement action as part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative. The operation included enforcement actions in 40 cities across 34 FBI divisions around the country and led to the recovery of 69 children who were being victimized through prostitution. Additionally, nearly 885 others, including 99 pimps, were arrested on state and local charges.
There is a very long history of alarms about children and their sexual activities, and numerous researchers have had insightful things to say about the contemporary fear of childrenandsex, which is not my area of specialisation. But.
It turns out that the US-government-funded Federal Bureau of Investigation has a human-trafficking programme. Well, they would, of course, and, in fact, given the framework of catching perpetrators of border-crossing crimes they make more sense as criminal-hunters than local or state police.
We’re working hard to stop human trafficking—not only because of the personal and psychological toll it takes on society, but also because it facilitates the illegal movement of immigrants across borders and provides a ready source of income for organized crime groups and even terrorists.
I actually prefer this sort of clarity to the hypocrisy of so many Rescue Industry projects: Here, we know where we are. According to the general description, sex-related trafficking is not the FBI’s only interest. But they have a sub-project on ‘missing children’ called Innocence Lost, where the sex link is overt, their achievements since 2003 described as working
to rescue more than 1,200 children. Investigations have successfully led to the conviction of over 600 pimps, madams, and their associates who exploit children through prostitution. These convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including multiple 25-year-to-life sentences and the seizure of real property, vehicles, and monetary assets.
I find that last line disturbing – bragging about how long the sentences are as well as the stuff taken from those involved, but those are the kind of indicators police use to show they are doing something – rescue being, after all, a pretty vague concept (and they know it).
But Innocence Lost turns out to be more than an FBI project; it is a National Initiative (this link takes you to a site on Missing and Exploited Children), composed of no fewer than
37 dedicated task forces and working groups throughout the United States involving federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies working in tandem with U.S. Attorney’s Offices.
Their fear is the growing problem of domestic child sex slavery in the form of child prostitution in the United States.
I would like to see evidence that the number of children taking money for sex is growing, since research has for a long time addressed young people who leave home and then survive by selling sex. Calling it child sex slavery is exciting, but the issue is the same. Leaving home is not always a bad thing, anyway.
But the question has to be: The 37 dedicated task forces and working groups get $26.1 million to do this work. If they have rescued 1200 children since 2003, each rescued child costs more than $20 000.
IF there is an immense and growing number of enslaved children worth investing huge amounts of money in, then some effort should be made to figure out how to find and save more of them. What is the money being spent on?
NCMEC has trained more than 1,000 members of law enforcement on the issue of child victims of prostitution. These specialized courses, developed and conducted in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have trained multi-disciplinary teams, with membership drawn from state, local, and federal law-enforcement agencies and local social-service providers from cities all over the country.
All that training and so few children rescued?
– Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist