FBI frees 5 kids from prostitution in nationwide operation

SPOKANE, Wash. - The FBI reports three Child Exploitation Task Forces (CETF) in Washington State, along with other local partners, recovered five juveniles and contacted 67 adults being exploited through prostitution. Some of the adults had been forced into prostitution as juveniles. The local operations were part of Operation Cross Country X.

The task forces arrested 14 people suspected of commercially exploiting children and/or adults and related crimes. The FBI said interviews with suspects and adults engaged in prostitution provided significant leads toward identifying other juveniles that are being exploited through prostitution. The CETFs also recovered drugs and several vehicles during the operations.

The FBI reports operations took place between October 13 and October 15 in Airway Heights, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Lakewood, Pasco, Spokane, Tukwila, and throughout Kitsap, King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. The FBI said victims and pimps travel throughout Washington to work and do not necessarily live in the area where they were located.

Undercover agents made contact with young women involved in prostitution by canvassing areas known for street prostitution.

The FBI said all the victims were offered referrals and information on a variety of services such as housing, counseling, job training and medical and education assistance.

The FBI said CETFs in Washington conduct investigations and operations throughout the state, year-round. But a challenging element of this criminal activity is that pimps and their victims often travel throughout the country to engage in prostitution and do not necessarily live where they were found during the stings.

By focusing efforts nation-wide during a specified period of time, the FBI says they're able to cast a broad net for a better opportunity to identify, locate and recover victims before they're moved to another area.