DENVER – FBI agents and the Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force recovered dozens of trafficked children, including several in Denver, in this year’s annual operation to break up sex trafficking rings across the country.
The 11th-annual “Operation Cross Country” wrapped up on Oct. 15 after four days of arrests, and netted 120 alleged sex traffickers and 84 victims.
Seventeen of the victims were recovered in Colorado or Wyoming—11 of which were found within the jurisdiction of the 18th Judicial District, according to DA George Brauchler.
In Denver, the Innocence Lost Task Force recovered a 3-month-old girl and her 5-year-old sister after a friend of their family, who was staying in their home, tried to sell the children to an undercover agent for sex for $600, according to the FBI.
“The primary goal is really the recovery of children. And so we definitely want to arrest those who have exploited children. But our primary goal is really to recover children,” said FBI Denver special agent in charge Calvin Shivers. “And then not only from a recovery standpoint, but providing them victim services to get them back home or back integrated into society.”
Victim services specialists from the FBI and local law enforcement agencies were on-hand to help the recovered victims.
“So, part of my responsibility is making sure that I first and foremost provide really good crisis intervention, that we’re providing needs assessments, that kind of doing psychosocial assessments trying to figure out what their background is,” said FBI Denver victim specialist Anne Darr. “How can we provide some good support for them to keep them out of the life and so that way they don’t go back to that?”
Fifty-five FBI offices and nearly 80 task forces made up of officers from more than 500 agencies took part in the effort, which focused on social media trafficking and prostitution at truck stops, hotels and casinos.
Brauchler said Aurora police, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office all worked with the Innocence Lost Task Force during the operation.
Similar operations happened in Canada, the UK, Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand, according to the FBI.
During last year’s operation, the Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force arrested 11 alleged sex traffickers and nine victims in Colorado and Wyoming. A year earlier, it recovered 20 children and busted seven alleged traffickers.
The FBI Denver is expected to provide more details on the number of people recovered and arrested in Colorado at a 3 p.m. news conference in Denver.