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Police, FBI sting locates eight children in sex-trafficking in Kent

Eight children ages 13-17 were taken into protective custody Nov. 5-7 in Kent as part of an FBI-organized nationwide sting to recover youngsters involved in the sex-trafficking trade.

Kent Police joined with other local and federal law-enforcement officers to target the adults and children involved in child sex trafficking and exploitation, according to a Kent Police media release.

Detectives used street contacts as well as the Internet to make contact with the teens. Officers arranged meetings at a variety of locations, including local homes and motels.

Once identified as a child under age 18, police took the teens into protective custody, provided medical assistance and a victim advocate. The children were eventually returned to their family, a guardian or other safe housing arrangements.

Law enforcement officers also arrested several adults in Kent for investigation of prostitution, promoting prostitution and other similar crimes. Kent Police did not have a specific number for the adults arrested, said Sgt. Pat Lowery.

People arrested for trafficking or promoting child prostitution are subject to federal prosecution and if convicted, face a minimum prison sentence of 10 years.

Twenty-three child prostitutes were taken off the streets in the Everett, Tacoma and Seattle area, including Kent.

Sixty-nine children were rescued nationwide in 40 cities as part of the three-day Operation Cross County V, according to the FBI.

“Child prostitution continues to be a significant problem in our country, as evidenced by the number of children rescued through the continued efforts of our crimes against children task forces,” stated Shawn Henry, executive assistant director of the FBI’s criminal, cyber, response, and services branch in an FBI media release. “There is no work more important than protecting America’s children and freeing them from the cycle of victimization. Through our strategic partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies, we are able to make a difference."

In the spring of 2003, the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the federal Department of Justice, formed the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address the growing problem of children forced into prostitution.

Kent Police have participated in the crackdown since 2008. Kent has assigned one detective to the group full time.

For more information about Operation Cross Country and the Innocence Lost National Initiative, visit www.fbi.gov.

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