Last week, the FBI led its latest nationwide effort to combat child sex trafficking, Operation Cross Country. Carried out in partnership with various state and local law enforcement agencies, Operation Cross Country IX helped identify 149 underaged victims of sex trafficking and 153 traffickers. Furthermore, 52 general buyers were also arrested for allegedly soliciting underage victims.
Thorn was fortunate to be one of the partnering agencies at Operation Cross Country in the San Francisco Bay Area, where at least six underaged victims were recovered and eight alleged pimps were arrested. Prior to the Operation, a representative from Thorn taught various law enforcement agencies how to use Spotlight, our tool that helps identify human trafficking leads and networks. After the training, Thorn and Digital Reasoning, our leading technology partner in the development of Spotlight, assisted law enforcement in using the tool to quickly identify potential victims of human trafficking during the Operation.
Leveraging Tech to Find Victims of Child Sex Trafficking
Spotlight has proven to be a powerful mechanism in the fight against child sexual exploitation. To date, over 1300 law enforcement individuals from 45 states have access to the tool. Furthermore, Spotlight has been used in over 860 cases to recover more than 300 victims and identify 56 traffickers. Another benefit of the tool is that it has been shown to reduce the amount of time it takes to conduct a human trafficking operation by at least 43%. This is an incredibly beneficial feature when you take into account how difficult it is to investigate child sex trafficking cases – largely because of the illicit nature of the crime.
We are honored to have been a part of this nationwide effort and to have seen Spotlight in action. Operation Cross Country started in 2003 and has identified well over 1,000 victims of human trafficking since then. This year’s Operation was the largest to date, with 53 FBI field offices and 73 child exploitation task forces working together from 135 cities across America. During our time in the San Francisco Bay Area, it was truly worthwhile to see the dedicated law enforcement partners hard at work to help identify victims, connect them to services, and hold their perpetrators accountable.
Spotlight is currently offered free of charge to law enforcement. If you’re interested in signing up, please email [email protected].