• Enter search term(s):


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



Recent Posts

Operation Cross Country VIII: Roundup and Comments

Date: July 3, 2014

Operation Cross Country VIII Roundup and Comments

There was yet another round of FBI Operation Cross Country in the end of June, making it the eighth nationwide prostitution sweep (supposedly) intended to “rescue” “children” who are in the sex trade (see my article, “Rescue is for Kittens: Ten Things Everyone Needs to Know about “Rescues” of Youth in the Sex Trade” for why this framework is problematic). As with the last few times, I’ve combed through hundreds of local news articles to uncover the full impact of the nationwide sweep on people in the sex trade, since FBI does not release a comprehensive national data.

Below, you will see an updated summary of all Operation Cross Country sweeps.

Spotty Data from FBI’s Operation Cross Country sweeps
Source: FBI press releases; last updated in July 2014

  Date Cities “Rescues” “Pimps” Other Arrest
1 06/25/2008 16 21 unk 389
2 10/27/2008 29 49 73 642 (518 adult sw)
3 02/23/2009 29 48 unk 571
4 10/26/2009 36 52 60 700
5 11/08/2010 40 69 99 885
6 06/25/2012 57 79 104 unk
7 07/29/2013 76 105 159 unk
8 06/23/2014 106 168 281 unk

Here is a chart showing what local news media are reporting about OCC-VIII. Let me know if I am missing any news stories with additional data.

City-by-City Roundup of Media Reports on Operation Cross Country VIII
Source: FBI press release unless otherwise specified; last updated in July 2014

Division “Rescue” “Pimp” Adult SWs Notes Source(s)
Albany 0 0 unk    
Albuquerque 0 0 unk    
Anchorage 0 3 unk    
Atlanta 11 15 47 arrested women are age 18-38 (median 23) FBI Atlanta; WMAZ
Baltimore 2 5 33 WBAL reports three “rescues,” contradicting FBI figure WBAL; WMAR
Birmingham 1 3 14 arrested women are age 19-34; “6-week old baby was also rescued”–is this one of the women’s child? FBI Birmingham; WHNT; WAFF; WZDX
Boston 0 0 unk    
Buffalo 2 0 unk    
Charlotte 0 3 unk    
Chicago 13 4 unk    
Cincinnati 0 1 unk    
Cleveland 16 12 at least 49 12 sw arrested in Boardman (ages 19-36, avg 25.67, median 25.5); 2 in Elyria (ages 19 and 20); 35 in Toledo. 4 minors “rescued” in Toledo are ages 15, 16 (x2), and 17. WYTV; WFMJ; Chronicle-Telegram; Vindicator
Columbia 1 2 unk   FBI Columbia
Dallas 2 2 unk    
Denver 18 11 64 “38 adults cited/arrested for prostitution, 26 adult victims/prostitutes contacted”; one minor identified as 16yo; two in Colorado Springs as 15yo boy and 17yo girl; boy “was trading se for a place to stay using an online website”; 13 women arrested in Pueblo, 4 more as “accomplices” FBI Denver; KCSR; Colorado Springs Gazette; Billings Gazette; KXRM
Detroit 5 6 unk    
El Paso 0 1 unk El Paso Times reports 2 pimp arrests and 8 rescues, contradicting FBI; one victim identified as 16yo El Paso Times
Houston 4 4 unk    
Indianapolis 4 3 at least 10 10 sw arrested in Fort Wayne WANE; WLFI; WISH
Jackson 2 19 up to 53 12 sw and 3 drivers arrested in Rankin County FBI Jackson; WDAM; Sun Herald; WAPT
Jacksonville 0 1 26   FBI Jacksonville; Florida Times-Union
Kansas City 2 7 at least 4 4 sw in Springfield alone KOLR
Knoxville 0 1 at least 8 Eight women were arrested for prostitution, four women were arrested for promoting prostitution, two women were arrested for human trafficking, and three men were cited for solicitation. FBI Knoxville; Times Free Press; WBIR
Las Vegas 7 2 at least 30 30 sw in Reno alone Reno Gazette-Journal
Little Rock 2 5 36   Associted Press; KFSM
Los Angeles 10 12 at least 54 total of 60 arrests in Long Beach alone FBI Los Angeles; Orange County Breeze
Louisville 0 4 unk    
Memphis 2 5 unk    
Miami 3 4 unk    
Milwaukee 6 12 at least 13 13 sw in Racine County alone FBI Milwaukee; WITI
Minneapolis 1 9 unk    
Mobile 0 0 unk    
Newark 1 8 37 minor was age 14; “45 pimps and prostitutes” arrested FBI Newark; Shore News Today
New Haven 1 1 44   FBI New Haven
New Orleans 3 17 75 5 sw in Alexandria, 17 in Baton Rouge, 10 in Lake Charles, 3 in Monroe, 17 in New Orleans, 23 in Shreveport The Town Talk; Gannett Louisiana; KTBS; Bayou Buzz; WDSU
New York 3 3 unk   FBI New York
Norfolk 0 1 unk    
Oklahoma City 2 14 27   KFOR; JohnTV; The Oklahoman
Omaha 1 2 unk    
Philadelphia 0 2 unk    
Phoenix 5 21 52 Yuma Sun reports 52 sw “rescued,” while FBI reports 42. Yuma Sun has further detail (breakdown by location), so I tend to believe it. FBI Phoenix; Yuma Sun; KTVK
Pittsburgh 0 3 25 “30 arrests on state charges, including three pimps and two adults that traveled for sex with a minor” leaving 25 arrests for adult women FBI Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Portland 1 2 20   FBI Portland; KOIN
Richmond 0 2 26   FBI Richmond; News & Advance
Sacramento 9 7 unk   FBI Sacramento
Salt Lake City 0 0 unk    
San Antonio 6 3 at least 6 6 women arrested in Austin for prostitution (ages 20-30, avg 26.67); 22yo woman arrested for “human trafficking” for “prostituting a 17-year-old girl”; the 22yo and 17yo were working together according to TWC News FBI San Antonio; KVUE; Austin American-Statesman; KXAN; TWC News
San Diego 2 6 35 5 sw arrested in Oceanside alone; “rescues of 37 victims, including two minors” FBI San Diego; The Coast News; KPBS
San Francisco 6 13 57   Point Reyes Light; Marin Independent Journal; KTVU
Seattle 4 13 56   FBI Seattle
Springfield 2 1 unk   FBI Springfield
St. Louis 0 1 at least 2 2 sw (ages 19 and 20) in Columbia alone FBI St. Louis; Columbia Tribune
Tampa 8 3 up to 82 Total 85 arrests, including 2 sw in Sarasota FBI Tampa
Washington 0 2 unk    
Total 168 281 (1000+?)    

Please note that I am counting the number of adults in the sex trade who were subjected to some form of police intervention as part of OCC-VIII, and not necessarily only those who were arrested or charged with prostitution. Many news stories disguise what actually took place (for example, writing “liberated from prostitution” when women are arrested), and some law enforcement officers seem to intentionally mislead the media (Portland Police Bureau reportedly told a reporter that they “did not arrest” any women, which is technically true, but left out the crucial fact that the women were given citations instead). I hope that someone would file FOIA requests with each FBI division to find out what happened to all these people.

While each Operation Cross Country campaign becomes bigger than the last, the overall patterns remain the same: large number of adult women in the sex trade are subjected to intervention by the law enforcement (most, though not all, are arrested or cited for prostitution or other related crimes); young people who are trading sex in order to escape from violence at home or in child welfare system and those who have safe home to go back to are lumped up together and involuntarily “rescued” back into the systems that they ran away from in the first place; young women and others who work with or alongside other young people are unfairly targeted as “pimps” even when there is no sign of any abuse or exploitation; Black and Brown men and women are profiled as “gang members” and “pimps” while the professionalized white rescue industry employ force, fraud or coercion to tell young people how they should live.

For more analysis on the “rescue” operations, please read the following articles:


  1. Hi Emi, Great job as always. I am putting together a comparison chart with all the prostitution arrests ( including during Operation Cross Country) from 2000 to 2012 and I am trying to find all the cities where these stings took place- although the FBI claims there were 106 cities, in their chart of cities (which you show), I can only find 54 cities… missing 52 cities. Wondered if you have come across any explanation why those cities weren’t included in their list? Thanks!

    Comment by Norma Jean Almodovar — July 9, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  2. I see in their Springfield Press Release that “The following list denotes FBI divisions, not necessarily actual cities, where juveniles were recovered and pimps were arrested…” so that may be how they are reporting cities, but you would think they would list the actual cities somewhere… have you ever run across such a list of all the cities where these stings took place? Thanks

    Comment by Norma Jean Almodovar — July 9, 2014 @ 9:17 am

  3. The FBI says 3 pimps in Anchorage, but all I’m aware of is 1 independent adult worker (and I follow these things).

    Comment by Tara — July 9, 2014 @ 10:11 pm

  4. Damn, I take it back. One arrested, charging documents filed today and not online yet.

    Comment by Tara — July 9, 2014 @ 10:23 pm

  5. […] seizure of MyRedBook came on the heels of a cross-country sweep in which the FBI arrested 168 victims, 281 pimps, and more than a thousand sex workers. That’s right: Somehow, the FBI managed to find 1.67 pimps per victim. In some cities, the FBI […]

    Pingback by The FBI Just Took The War On Sex Workers To a New Level After What They Did Last Month — July 20, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

  6. […] It makes for more accurate reporting and more interesting reporting. For example, Emi Koyama found that FBI operations to “rescue” trafficking victims involved arresting 10 adult female sex […]

    Pingback by SIX PROBLEMS w. MEDIA COVERAGE on the SEX TRADE | SWOP-PHILLY — September 25, 2015 @ 9:28 am

  7. […] It makes for more accurate reporting and more interesting reporting. For example, Emi Koyama found that FBI operations to “rescue” trafficking victims involved arresting 10 adult female […]

    Pingback by Six Problems With Media Coverage on the Sex Trade | Project Safe — September 29, 2015 @ 8:36 am

  8. […] Country VII -IX, but they did for the first six sweeps. In an analysis of that data, Emi Koyama found that Operation Cross Country I-VI netted, in addition to 239 “rescues,” the arrest of […]

    Pingback by Sex Workers Outreach Project | Things to Know About Operation Cross Country and Raids to "Rescue" Child Sex Trafficking Victims — October 24, 2015 @ 4:16 pm

  9. […] Despite high numbers of arrests, the head of the Houston vice division, Capt. Dan Harris, says his squads are beginning to look at prostitution differently because they now recognize that some prostitutes are “victims of human trafficking.” Like other law enforcement agencies across the country, the Houston police now justify massive prostitution busts as missions to “rescue” sex trafficking victims, and hundreds of sex workers and their clients end up in handcuffs in the process. […]

    Pingback by Inside the Sensational Business of “Rescuing” Sex Workers | News For The Blind — October 28, 2015 @ 5:44 pm

  10. […] Country VII -IX, but they did for the first six sweeps. In an analysis of that data, Emi Koyama found that Operation Cross Country I-VI netted, in addition to 239 “rescues,” the arrest of […]

    Pingback by Is Operation Cross Country the Best Way to Fight Child Sex Trafficking? | Forensic News — October 29, 2015 @ 10:51 am

  11. […] and law enforcement does enormous operations and sweeps. There’s a national operation called Operation Cross Country, done in the name of finding victims of child trafficking, but if you look more closely at the […]

    Pingback by As our MPs gather evidence on decriminalising sex work, they need … – New Statesman | Seo DSC — November 3, 2015 @ 1:53 am

  12. […] 3 Emi Koyoma, Spotty Data from FBI s Operation Cross Country Sweeps table, FBI Press Releases (July 3, 2014) […]

    Pingback by A Modern Slavery Act for the United States - SecuritySlagsSecuritySlags — November 14, 2015 @ 11:29 am

  13. […] Country VII -IX, but they did for the first six sweeps. In an analysis of that data, Emi Koyama found that Operation Cross Country I-VI netted, in addition to 239 “rescues,” the arrest of over […]

    Pingback by Things to Know About Operation Cross Country and Raids to “Rescue” Child Sex Trafficking Victims | Welcome To — November 28, 2015 @ 2:06 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply