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Roundup of Local Media Reports on Operation Cross Country VI: Parsing Hidden Information

Date: June 25, 2012

Below is a roundup of local media reports regarding the Operation Cross Country VI, a three-day nationwide campaign by FBI and local law enforcement authorities aimed at “rescuing” minors in the sex trade. See my previous blog posts below for basic understanding of what it is, and what the problems are:

Local reports are interesting because they sometimes reveal information not available from FBI’s press releases, as journalists interview their respective local officials for their stories. There are of course many more articles, but I am only listing articles that includes some original reporting.


Last updated: 07/11/2012

Massachusetts: 14 arrests total, 3 of which were “pimps.” 1 juvenile “recovered.” Matches data for FBI Boston Division (all of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, and Rhode Island). (The Republican, 06/25/2012) While 1 youth (17 year old) is said to have been “caught up” during the sweep, it was determined that she was not involved in prostitution. (Boston Globe, 06/26/2012). Is this the same youth who is listed as the only “recovered juvenile” by FBI?

Sherveport-Bossier City, Louisiana: An article claims “nearly 30″ pimps were arrested in Northern Louisiana, which is obviously inaccurate. FBI’s New Orleans Division (all of Louisiana) reports 10 “pimp” arrests, which is more than in most other divisions, but still not 30. The reported figure probably is for people who were arrested for prostitution, most of whom are adult women. (KLTV, 06/26/2012)

Revealing quote: “The teenagers, who are all U.S. citizens, were handcuffed and held in police custody until they could be placed with child welfare organisations.” (Daily Mail, 06/26/2012)

Toledo: An article claims “26 of 104 alleged pimps arrested between Thursday and Sunday were in the Toledo area.” FBI Cleveland Division (northern Ohio) reports 0 “rescue” and 1 “pimp” arrest, so the paper is clearly wrong. 26 must be the number of all arrests, most of which are probably adult women in sex trade. (Toledo Blade, 06/26/2012)

Detroit: 70 people arrested, including 5 “pimps” and 22 “customers”; 6 teenagers “recovered.” That leaves 43 arrests for people (mostly adult women) who trade sex. FBI’s Detroit Division (covering the entire state of Michigan) reports only 3 “pimps,” so this discrepancy is curious. (Detroit Free Press, 06/25/2012) One of the youth was a boy. (WXYZ, 06/25/2012) Other sources report that 77 out of 79 minors “rescued” were girls.

San Francisco Bay Area: 6 teenage girls “rescued,” 7 “pimps” arrested, matching the FBI figure for the San Francisco Division (all of coastal Northern California). Breakdown of teenagers: 4 in Oakland, 1 in San Francisco, 1 in San Rafael. (Huffington Post, 06/25/2012); 61 “adult prostitutes” arrested (San Francisco Bay Guardian, 07/11/2012) Another source claims 10 “pimp” arrests in the Bay Area, contradicting FBI release: 3 in Richmond, 3 in Vallejo, 2 in San Francisco, 1 each in San Jose and San Rafael (Marinscope Sausalito, 07/03/2012) In Richmond, 8 adult women are arrested for engaging in prostitution (Contra Costa Times, 06/25/2012; San Jose Mercury, 06/25/2012) Another article claims arrest of “65 adult prostitutes” in the Bay Area (Patch, 06/26/2012) SF Weekly (06/27/2012) absurdly claims “60-plus women who had been working as prostitutes” were rescued, even though they were not “rescued,” but simply arrested as criminals.

Oklahoma City: 2 girls in OKC, 44 “others” arrested. FBI’s Oklahoma City Division (entire state of Oklahoma) reports 3 “rescues” and 7 “pimp” arrests. Even if all 7 were included in the 44, that leaves 37 arrests for sellers and their clients–mostly sellers, of course. (The Associated Press, 06/25/2012) Quote: “[Police] are partnering with the FBI to pull dozens of prostitutes off the streets, including two minors here in the metro.” (News on 6, 06/25/2012

Chicago: “72 people face federal solicitation charges,” 65 other arrests (total 137). FBI Chicago Division (entire northern Illinois) reports only 3 “recovery” and 3 “pimp” arrests, so most of these arrests were for buyers and sellers. (The Times, (06/25/2012)

Portland: 3 “rescues,” 6 “pimps,” and 3 “adults with prostitution.” This figure is consistent with FBI Portland Division’s numbers, but contradicts the data I collected, which shows 7 arrests for adult women. (KOIN 6, 06/25/2012)

Atlantic City: 29 arrests, mostly adult women charged with “engaging in prostitution.” FBI Newark Division (all of New Jersey) reports 0 “rescues” and only 3 “pimp” arrests. (NBC10, 06/24/2012)

Secaucus, NJ: Part of FBI Newark Division. 4 adults arrested for “engaging in prostitution,” 1 arrested for “engaging in a massage business without a proper license.” No juvenile arrested or identified. (Hudson Reporter, 06/29/2012)

Dallas: 6 “rescues,” 36 other arrests (none of whom were pimps). FBI Dallas Division says the same thing (6 “rescues,” 0 “pimps”). (The Dallas Morning News, 06/25/2012)

Milwaukee: 63 total arrests, comprised of 53 “adult prostitutes,” 3 “pimps,” 7 “rescued” youth. FBI Milwaukee division (all of Wisconsin) reports 6 “rescues” and 0 “pimp” arrests, so there is a big discrepancy here. Also, the article makes it clear that “rescue” actually means “arrest.” (CBS 58, 06/25/2012) (Thanks Claudine O’Leary for the link.)

4 Comments »

  1. Sadly, Milwaukee, Wisconsin participated for the first time too. Per local report http://www.cbs58.com/news/local-news/Child-Prostitution-Sting-160326115.html: “Over the course of the two-day local effort, Milwaukee area law enforcement agencies recovered the highest number of juveniles in the nation, with a total of seven identified during the operation. Additionally, 53 adult prostitutes and three pimps were also taken into custody, bringing the total arrests to 63 in the Milwaukee area.”

    That total of 63 includes all the minors who were arrested and charged with prostitution offenses.

    Comment by Claudine O'Leary — July 1, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

  2. To add to this – it appears the FBI is overstating what they are doing.

    On their website:
    “To date, these groups have worked successfully to rescue more than 2,100 children. Investigations have successfully led to the conviction of over 1,000 pimps, madams, and their associates who exploit children through prostitution.”

    I totaled the rescues of minors from 2004-12 and come up with 316, and can only officially locate arrests for 336 “pimps”, because the 2004-07 data only shows “arrest” data that could include all arrests. As of 2007, the convictions were at 217, so I would like to know what the 783 successful convictions from 07-12 are.

    The data that continues to be missing from the FBI is how they help the minors that they “rescue”. Where are they 1 day, 1 month, 1 year or 8 years after they “rescue” them? If they cannot answer this question, the operation is not successful no matter how many convictions they get.

    Comment by Carol Fenton — July 24, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  3. Carol, I think the number of “rescues” is for the entire Innocence Lost Initiative (CSEC task forces and all), so it should be more than the sum of Cross Country figures. I do agree that they are probably exaggerating the number of “pimps, madams, and their associates who exploit children through prostitution” though: the 1:2 ratio for “pimps exploiting children” to “rescued children” is too high to be believable, considering how rare these arrests are and how difficult it is to convict them.

    As for follow-up on “rescued” minors, I think organizations like SARC and Janus Youth should respond to that (but don’t).

    Comment by emigrl — July 24, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

  4. I don’t know how to get from 597 to 2200. That’s a gap of 1,603 minors! (200 a yr). How are so many minors “rescued” outside of these sting operations? That’s 200 a year.

    Comment by Carol Fenton — July 24, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

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