KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT)- The FBI has announced more than a dozen people have been arrested in East Tennessee as part of a child sex trafficking operation.
Operation Cross Country VIII netted 17 arrested in several East Tennessee cities, according to a release from the FBI.
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.
“Sex trafficking of children is a serious and troubling offense and it will not be tolerated," Acting Special Agent in Charge Slater said. "We are fortunate to work with dedicated and capable local, state, and federal law enforcement partners as we address this threat. We want to especially thank the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Hamilton County Sheriff’s office, Chattanooga Police Department, Red Bank Police Department, and Homeland Security Investigation, without them, this operation would not have been possible.”
Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to address the growing problem of child prostitution.
To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 3,400 children from being exploited. The investigations and subsequent 1,450 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 14 life terms.
The Innocence Lost National Initiative brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from across the country to NCMEC for training.