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Feds 'Rescue' Women from Freedom and Money in 11th 'Operation Cross Country'

Hear from the real victims of this cruel FBI charade.

Screenshot/FBI footage on YouTubeScreenshot/FBI footage on YouTubeThe FBI just wrapped up its 11th annual "Operation Cross Country," a massive multi-day vice sting conducted under the guise of stopping sexual predators. Efforts started in early October, spanning counties across America and even some operations in Thailand.

On Wednesday, federal officials announced the end of this round of stings on "pimps, prostitutes, and their customers," insisting that their "primary goal is to recover children."

The media will largely lap up this sensationalist pageantry, as it has in previous years. And once again, everyone will ignore the real victims of Operation Cross Country: the vulnerable women and girls tricked, frightened, robbed, detained, arrested, incarcerated, and otherwise mistreated by police and federal agents as part of this sick charade that claims to help them.

The earliest local news report about this year's operation came from Harrison County, West Virginia, where FBI agents helped the Greater Harrison Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force arrest five women on misdemeanor prostitution charges.

Other stories have began trickling out ahead of the FBI's official announcement Wednesday.

In Anchorage, a sex worker named "Alanna" said she was detained by a squad of FBI agents after meeting an undercover agent in a hotel room, denied medical care when she began having asthma and anxiety attacks, and had her phone seized. An agent "went in my bra" to pull out her cellphone, Alanna told Alaska sex-worker activists in an interview. (Listen to the whole thing below.) "I'm so confused why my phone was taken when I wasn't even arrested." There were pictures of her family and "sentimental stuff" on the phone that cannot be replaced, she said.

Alanna also alleges that the agents told her they had called for medical attention but didn't actually do it until she also called 911 herself. Overall, the experience was "scary" and left her feeling "violated"; she did not get the impression that law enforcement saw her as a potential victim or even cared about her well-being.

"This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement today. "It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

In Cheektowaga, New York, local police teamed up with the FBI to arrest five women ages 18 to 30 for prostitution. In Kansas, the Salina Police Department, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the FBI worked together to take down two women, ages 22 and 26, for advertising sexual services online.

This is pretty typical of how Operation Cross Country works. During last year's efforts, nearly 1,000 people, almost exclusively women, were arrested for prostitution with the help of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies. Meanwhile less than a dozen people were booked on federal charges—a batch of prosecutions that included zero cases of sex trafficking a minor by force. But several people on were on the hook for violating the Mann Act, a Progressive Era law criminalizing the transportation of someone across state lines for prostitution or any "immoral purpose."

Screenshot/FBI footage on YouTubeScreenshot/FBI footage on YouTube

It's too early to tell how many people were arrested this year, but early news reports suggest that once again, plenty of adult women were arrested, jailed, and face criminal charges—felonies in some places—simply for trying to make a living. The only victims in these cases are the sex workers themselves, who have any money they have on then taken by the cops; who may spend days in jail (and away from families or day jobs) before even going to court, and more time after; who have their names and mugshots plastered all over local news and online (sometimes in conjunction with degrading details and comments from cops); and who face court fees, fines, and a criminal record.

That record can prove a significant barrier to future employment. One young woman who told me her story said she dreamed of being a nurse, but a prostitution arrest at age 18 "shattered" that ambition. During the sting, she removed a small bag of marijuana from her bra as she was getting undressed, so police booked her for not just prostitution but felony drug possession too. Now she can't get the student loans she would need to go back to school, and she's barred from even getting a bartender's license.

The girl was first arrested for prostitution at age 17, as part of Operation Cross Country. Her name and mugshot were publicized along with the names of the other women they picked up as part of this so-called rescue mission. Only after that did police realize she was underage and retract her name—adding her instead to their tally of child sex-trafficking victims "saved."

But "the vice agents pretty much just took me to my parents house and dropped me off," she says. "Never offered any counseling, any emotional/physical support, they just wanted to get me out there way." She soon ran away, working by herself from a motel for a few months until that proved too dangerous and then working with another woman and a man.

Within the year, she was arrested again. She says "it took a year and half of court dates, lawyer fees," and "having to pay 60 dollars a week for a [diversion] program that was bullshit" before her case was resolved. During that process, she realized she was pregnant. Her son "is the only reason I continued to stay strong, stay sober, keep pushing even if I didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had goals written out, short term and long term, I was really going to be something for him to be proud of...UNTIL [the conviction] came along."

Now, she says, "I'm a single mother with a felony and I will be labeled as a loser and a whore for the rest of my life."

Screenshot/FBI footage on YouTubeScreenshot/FBI footage on YouTube

It's common for sex workers arrested in Operation Cross Country to face charges other than just a misdemeanor prostitution charge. They may be charged for having a small quantity of some drug on them, or for driving with an expired license. Sex workers who drive one another to appointments or post ads for their dual services may find themselves booked for the more serious offense of "promoting prostitution." In some areas, police routinely tack on felony charges for women who use phones or computers to arrange appointments, using laws that target the use of technology in the commission of a crime.

And if they are immigrants, legal or otherwise, even a misdemeanor prostitution charge is enough to trigger deportation.

In early years, juveniles were routinely arrested along with adult women. This is more rare today, though it's still routine in some areas. (An uncooperative minor sex-trafficking victim was jailed for 109 days recently in Louisiana.) But the kids picked up in Operation Cross Country—almost always girls, largely older teenagers, and often runaways—still receive little in the way of actual aid. Often they are simply returned to whatever situation they ran away from. If they're lucky, they'll avoid having their image plastered on YouTube by the FBI.

The model was designed to free minors captive to evil "traffickers" and then focus on prosecuting the traffickers. But the stereotypical idea of trafficking via abduction, captivity, and violence is exceptionally rare, at least among the cases caught in federal stings.

Most of the minors found in these crackdowns are not selling sex because someone is forcing them into it but because they have no other palatable options to get by. They need shelter, cash, better care, legit employment, and better prospects all around—not for hero cops to lure them to hotels with promises of money and then bust down the door, take them to jail, give them a few pamphlets from equally unhelpful Christian or feminist advocates, and send them on their way in time to hold a press conference. Keep this in mind as the FBI touts the "84 sexually exploited juveniles" it supposedly saved in Operation Cross Country this year.

For more on the history and harms of Operation Cross Country, see "American Sex Police" from Reason's April 2017 issue.

Photo Credit: Screenshot/FBI footage on YouTube

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The media will largely lap up this sensationalist pageantry, as it has in previous years.

    People don't like to feel about things in new ways. It's uncomfortable to think that the brainwashing you've received all your life through education and popular culture might possibly be wrong. Drugs, prostitution, etc.

  • Hugh Akston||

    "Clever things make people feel stupid, and unexpected things make them feel scared!"

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    There's even a fancy psychology term for it. Cognitive dissonance.

  • You're Kidding||

    Right on cue: Headline story in our local paper today. It makes people feel good.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    The girl was first arrested for prostitution at age 17, as part of Operation Cross Country. Her name and mugshot were publicized along with the names of the other women they picked up as part of this so-called rescue mission. Only after that did police realize she was underage and retract her name—adding her instead to their tally of child sex-trafficking victims "saved."

    I don't weep for dead cops.

  • colorblindkid||

    This shit is fully supported and spearheaded by bipartisan politicians, though. The media feeds into it. They actually think they're doing something good and saving these people.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    They actually think they're doing something good and saving these people.

    I don't think cops actually believe they are saving anyone; they've shown great propensity towards laughing at cripples, banging underage chicks, pocketing drugs, and being wantonly cruel.

    I think cops are immediately indoctrinated in a Us vs Them war that will never end. The perpetual 'we are at war' mindset turns them callous. They may see the only real evil as murderers, gangs, ect. but they hate civilians -- they are just people who don't get it, who make their jobs harder. Sooner rather than later they come to the opinion where there are no more civilians, just a sea of criminals -- which is correct, legally speaking. Everyone of us could be arrested or hassled right now if any cop had some much as a passing fancy to abuse.

  • StackOfCoins||

    I went to a community college once that had a course for would-be cops. They drill them in the field exactly like you might expect the military to do. "yes sir!" "no sir!" all that shit.

  • You're Kidding||

    The very use of the word "civilian" moves them from blue knighthood to infantry.

    So much for Posse Comitatus.

  • MarieH||

    The victims recovered included a 3-month-old girl and her 5-year-old sister, these men are heroes.

  • Qsl||

    Considering the Jolies and Paltrow still require saving from the likes of Weinstein just to speak up, is this an unreasonable assumption though?

    I mean apparently you have multi-millionaires too traumatized to speak up; what hope is there for the common streetwalker?

    These are conflicting narratives about the nature of sex and money, and whose to say these prostitutes aren't just conditioned that these are the norms much like any up and coming star? There is no test for women to determine whether they were coerced or not, so how can you tell?

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    The sad reality is that this shit will not end until progressive women and feminists begin to defend these women on The View, 60 Minutes, most of Hollywood and all of the other media they control. But it will never happen because progressive women actually hate each other more than they hate men. Slut shaming is their knee jerk reaction to any woman who shows any sign of independence from their puritanical orthodoxy. Women who enjoy or exploit their sexuality are feared, hated and prohibited in their world. It has always been the case and it always will be. It's primal. But thanks to ENB for staying on this story. She may be the only real feminist out there.

  • patskelley||

    and now revealing the sheer number of progressive feminists who were 'forced' into prostituting themselves in exchange for wealth and fame now seek to escape under cover of victimhood? Crocodile tears.

  • patskelley||

    Because " Slut shaming is their knee jerk reaction to any woman who shows any sign of independence from their puritanical orthodoxy" When Progressive actresses who exploit their sexuality are exposed for sleeping their way to the top they can't simply say "Ya, I (explitive) Weinstein to get the part." That's not equality....right?

  • Qsl||

    The neuroticism associated with sexuality may confound things, but as a practical matter, the law kinda has to default to either people own their sexuality or they don't. Edge cases aside, you can't play it from both ends without making a mess for everybody.

    For example, I have to imagine there were at least a few who willingly offered sex to Weinstein for a chance at stardom. If you completely take sex out the equation, you deny these people agency (thanks patskelley for making this point clear). If sex is on the table, then you have more reserved people feeling pressured that sex is required, as if not them, there are certainly other people who will.

    The law can't accommodate these two equally.

  • Devastator||

    Don't worry they don't weep for you either. Now please go try a country that has no cops and see how much you enjoy it.

  • MamaLiberty||

    Put a sock in it...

    I live in a county with no "cops" at all. We have peace officers in our sheriff's department, and they don't pull any of this shit. I enjoy living here very much. And, if I had to call them, the deputies would not be robbing me, abusing me or throw me in jail. I don't know any sex workers here, actually. They tend to mind their own business and I mind mine...

    There are two kinds of people: those who think they can/must control other people. And then there are those who don't... You sound very much like the first sort...

  • Citizen X - #6||

    she did not get the impression that law enforcement saw her as a potential victim or even cared about her well-being.

    In Japanese Buddhism, this is what's known as satori.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Go watch more Fist of the North Star you weeb.

  • Mitsima||

    In 'Murica we don't have a fancy word like, 'satori', all we have is a sound, pronounced, 'duh'.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Japanese Buddhism is but one instantiation of the Universally Incoherent Theory of the Stuff-and-Stuff. I hope that this "Chokra" does not "shock ya", but, here is a mere shallow grasshopper's summary of the True Deepness of the Universally Incoherent Theory of the Stuff-and-Stuff…

    Stuff-and-stuff is made of coherent particles, incoherent particles, and participles, except sometimes it is made of coherent waves and incoherent wives (more often the latter, actually).

    Stuff-and-stuff is VERY stuffy, always! Except when it is not!

    To attune yourselves to these Deep Principles, use "Feng Shui" to properly arrange fire, water, and earth. And ash tray, a wet booger rag, and your dirty shoes, in that order, will do… Except it takes YEARS to know how to arrange them!

  • SQRLSY One||

    Also I forgot to mention this: In Stuffy-Stuffism, in order to live a moral, ethical life, one must pay VERY close attention, whenever our Stuffy-Stuff gets to being made very significantly out of participles, expecially that them thar DANGLING participles! If'n ye find yerselves in this kind of regrettable situation, be VERY careful to NOT let your participles dangle too low!!!

  • Devastator||

    If you are going to try and sound smart you should at least learn how to spell chakra.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    The Amnesty International report on prostitution that called for legalization which ENB reported on a year ago should be sticky'd somewhere. And it should be linked often. I would send it to proggie friends -- let them argue against Amnesty fucking International. Few things are so obviously in the wrong as when one is forced to undermine the validity and findings of human rights organizations; whom basically spend all their resources on cataloging and reporting upon state oppression.

  • Tony||

    You think progressives are in favor of the status quo for sex workers? Or what? Are you just fucking stupid and addicted to fat man radio?

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Are you kidding me? Progressives are leading the charge in the Sex War. Saving them kids, one bashed in skull at a time.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I mean do you seriously fucking believe that the Title IX sherws and Anita Sarkesian's of the world are fighting for a world with legalized prostitution?? These same people who scream "PATRIARCHY"!?

    I don't think you actually believe that, I think you're just conditioned to parrot a counter response to any given comment because that is your entire shtick.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Heterosexual men are inherently bad, oppressive, and their desires are just plain disgusting. A few manage to overcome it land be deemed more or less "vagina friendly" but as for the masses, they are hardly more than patriarchal animals that need to be managed. Given that narrative there is no way progressives can ever advocate for legalized prostitution, as that would be enabling the oppressor and condemning their "victims" to exploitation. All this under the guise of saving people from themselves, which is what right kind of government does best /SARC.

  • BYODB||

    Which political movement fought for a constitutional amendment to ban the sale of alcohol again? Oh, right, Progressive Women.

    It's almost like you're completely ignorant of history.

  • Jordan||

    Plenty of progressives were pissed off at Amnesty over that report. There are a lot of progressive supporters of the Swedish Model. Who do you think is pushing the sex trafficking hysteria here?

  • BYODB||

    Where are these Progressive supporters of the Swedish model? Honest question.

  • Longtobefree||

    Why are you on this forum?
    Honest question indeed!

  • losmazeman||

    Please post pics of the swedish model.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    I only traffic Swedish models for my sexing.

  • some guy||

    Come on, Tony. This combines oppressive nanny-statism with mendacious virtue signaling. Those are your two favorite things.

  • Tony||

    Never accept a trick with a buzzcut.

  • Chipper Morning, Mean Girl||

    I bet that's hard earned knowledge right there.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Whenever something like this happens [I know, every day...] I have to wonder if a rational "solution" would be a legalize prostitution as a legitimate means to satisfy a persistent need; fact is many guys just don't get as much or the kind of sex they want [they don't call it the "oldest profession" for nothing]; the government could license [I know, a problem in itself] and regulate it to get [steal] whatever cut and hold some moral high ground on the matter, Then "Johns" would not have to pursue the hookers in some back alley for their prurient assignations and play cops and prostitutes. It would be so much better than spending all those resources to provide a vice unit with a group photo op in order to tell us that they did it to save them from themselves by arresting, prosecuting, and publicizing their identities on mass media. Not to mention trying to ruin as many of the customers reputation, for those who have any to lose.

  • BYODB||

    Women whore themselves out all the time, as do men. It only seems to become a problem when the government says it's a problem.

    You know when you shell out $100-$200 for a date and she / he screws you that same night? How is that functionally different from prostitution, exactly? Is it cash specifically that causes the evil, or are goods-in-kind equally evil?

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Good point, Had a good friend in high school; this guy was literally a genius and was a whiz at everything from quantum physics to poetry. He actually wrote a story for a porn mag called SCREW titled "There's no love, only prostitution;" pretty much what you said, but I don't believe he ever included it in his CV of publications.

  • BYODB||

    It relies on intent which is ludicrous since even regular, everyday sex has a whole host of considerations behind it not the least of which is 'what do I get out of this?' which seems to be the central concern of prostitution.

    How do you prove if someone is a whore, or a prostitute? Well, it's a trick question because everyone is both.

    I will say that your friend was wrong about there is no love, but when it comes to sex it's a ludicrous proposition to try and split out types of sex that are morphologically the same but different in intent. It's a special class of crime where an otherwise legal action is illegal because of a difference that is almost impossible to honestly differentiate.

    Sadly, I will readily admit this is probably the case with rape prosecution as well but in that particular case we're at least able to say that yes sometimes people are forced to have sex, and force is not ok. It should be easier to figure that out in prostitution cases, but it's not even really considered.

  • Devastator||

    If everything is prostitution then nothing is prostitution. Words have definitions for a reason.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Why is it legal to pay two adults to have sex in front of a camera or pay another adult (and yourself I suppose) to have sex with you in front of a camera but it's illegal to pay an adult to have sex without a camera in the room?

  • Devastator||

    It's hard to collect taxes on sex for cash. It's way less targetable than a director who pumps out porn videos.

  • You're Kidding||

    ^^^^^

    Exactly.

    Only, it's not just collecting taxes. It's about control.

    Libertarians understand that.

  • Mitsima||

    You brought up licensing and regulation so I must bring up the Mustang Ranch.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Civilized countries do not criminalize. But there are superstitious satrapies, such as These States, where the Anti Saloon League of 1893-1932 was replaced by the Anti Sex League and Muthas Against Individual Rights...

  • Earth Skeptic||

    You are not looking at this like a progressive. To wit:

    1. Half the population is hoarding vaginas.

    2. The other half of the population is severely deprived.

    3. The feds must run a program for vagina time redistribution.

  • You're Kidding||

    Like I said.................

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: FBI 'Saves' More Women from Freedom and Money in 11th 'Operation Cross Country'
    Hear from the real victims of this cruel FBI charade.

    Let this be a lesson for all of you out there.
    Only the government has the right to fuck someone for money.

  • BYODB||


    "This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement today. "It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."


    Look, women are too dumb to decide who to fuck on their own and they don't own their bodies so I don't see a problem here. The only decisions a woman should ever make are which Democrat to vote for, and if they should get an abortion. That's it. Those are the only decisions a woman is cognizant enough to make. Period.


    /Progressive


    Notably, the 'way out' they seem to be offering is jail. Yeah, I'm sure that's super preferable and will definitely keep them from selling their ass again in the future.

  • Mitsima||

    I weep tears of joy for this.

  • Longtobefree||

    Like about a hundred years ago I used to read something about "a woman's right to choose". Was that a different topic or something?

    "It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

    So how about you tell the taxpayers how many dollars were spent per actual young person who actually gets 'out' (whatever that means today) of that vicious cycle of abuse? Oh, wait, there is no divide by zero function, is there?

    Or does 'vicious cycle of abuse' refer to the practice of arrest, over and over and over again?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Framing ladies with foreign accents in prohibitionist sting operations certainly feeds the incarceration, deportation and soft-machine pimping industries. We're talking government jobs here!

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

    And so it was that marriage was banned.

  • generalisimo14||

    It is a numbers game.
    These women are simply numbers to be heralded to the media and politicians to prove how vital and helpful these programs are. MOAR

  • MaleMatters||

    Re: "Most of the minors found in these crackdowns are not selling sex because someone is forcing them into it but because they have no other palatable options to get by. They need shelter, cash, better care, legit employment, and better prospects all around."

    There are many male minors who have no other palatable options to get by and need shelter, cash, better care, legit employment, and better prospects all around. They often resort to crimes such as robbing and stealing, for which they may need a gun. Robbing and stealing are frequently fraught with violence. This lends more credence to the idea that men are more violent than women. It's another reason mostly men populate our jails.

    This is an example of how women's "sex-object" image advantages women: they can usually avoid violence and danger to themselves to get much-needed money.

    For more rarely heard views on gender, search for "A Comprehensive Look at Gender Equality: Taking On The Institute For Women's Policy Research." It's at Male Matters USA.

  • Pogue Mahon||

    - Now, she says, "I'm a single mother with a felony and I will be labeled as a loser and a whore for the rest of my life."

    Well, you are literally a whore. And there is nothing wrong with that.

  • Abe Froman||

    The FBI? What else would you expect from an organization whose members all have their heads up their butts 24 hours of every day??

  • Tif||

    This operation also rescued three children 5 and under who were specifically being offered to undercover agents for sex and the average age of those under 18 that were removed from prostitution situations was 15, meaning that there were probably some 13 and 14 year olds.

    Your original article questions the value of this operation given the resources spent. What is the value of rescuing toddlers and small children or even 13 and 14 year olds from repeated rape? Trying to assess what those resources might otherwise accomplish would be a much bigger challenge. If you could make a credible argument that more children could be rescued by deploying these resources in different law enforcement programs, I would support you.

    As for the consenting adults that are caught up in this sting, as long as prostitution is illegal, I don't see any reason not to arrest people for it. That said, I believe it should be legal for similar reasons to the ones you use to attack Operation Cross Country. But if your biggest concern is that consenting adults are being arrested and having future work and housing prospects damaged, then instead of spending your time attacking the OCC, would it be more productive to instead argue for the legalization of prostitution and also argue for non-discrimination and/or clearing the public record of anyone arrested who is not prosecuted, who is found not guilty or who has served their time and probation.

  • Principal Spittle||

    Thank you, well said.
    I kept having the feeling while reading this article that the wording was steering around important facts. The prospect of searching out details of child prostitution bust relating to this was daunting to say the least.

    However, the energy spent by Rrason magazine and it's writers on this subject seem to be directd exactly as you suggest. The omission of details contrary to the narrative is annoying and lazy but nothing compared to the deliberate conflation of old fashioned prostitution with child sexual abuse. The cynical strategy by law enforcement and politicians of bringing it all under the heading of "human trafficking" is an obvious ploy to protect the ability to police morality.
    The desire to protect children, even at great cost is something that i expect is high on the list of most universal human values. Political exploitation of these most common shared values by states to justify and grow their power needs to be recognized and opposed.

  • BlueStarDragon||

    This only reminds me of the sex registry act which put prostitute's and their johns on the list. Nothing like free advertising for both side here provided by the government. Then they put their faces on you-tube so every one can know who is open for business. Yep that will stop capitalisms with sex all right.

    Tif the LP have been fighting for legalized prostitution since it was founded.

  • MarieH||

    Under the "guise" of an operation that arrested 120 suspects and rescued 84 children. The victims recovered included a 3-month-old girl and her 5-year-old sister after a friend staying with their family made a deal with an undercover task force officer to sell both children for sex in exchange for $600.

    My concern would be these trafficked children, only a callous idiot concern themselves with the wh*res getting shorted.

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