MANILA, October 20, 2016 — The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with representatives from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and several international law enforcement partners, announced that 82 minors were rescued and 239 traffickers and their associates were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country, an international effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from October 13 to 16, 2016.
For the first time in ten iterations, this FBI-led initiative took place in several countries around the world, including Southeast Asia, with approximately 10 operations in six cities across Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines. In the Philippines, using information from the FBI, local law enforcement authorities recovered two boys, ages 5 and 11, and a 2-year-old girl from a location being used to house a website-based service. Authorities arrested five adults who ran a web-streaming service for individuals who would pay for access to livestreaming sexual abuse, as well as access to the children for the purpose of illegal sexual acts. The investigation continues to identify additional suspects.
“Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seek to prey on the most vulnerable of our population,” said FBI Director James B. Comey. “As part of this effort, we are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office for Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”
Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,000 child identifications and locations.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines commended the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Inter Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIA ADITG) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for two drug seizures in NAIA in October 15 and l7.
The US Embassy said these are respectively the third and fourth drug seizures at NAIA this month based on tips from the DEA.
In both cases, the U.S. Embassy’s DEA Office tip off the NAIA IADITG, led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) about an information that it received about a potential contraband aboard an incoming international flight that resulted to the discovery of the contraband in the subjects’ checked luggage and their arrest.
The PDEA seized approximately 6.2 kg of cocaine in October 15, and 4.3 kg of cocaine plus 677 grams of a synthetic stimulant commonly known as “bath salts” in October 17.
The NAIA IADITG is a multi-agency task force led by PDEA established in a cooperative effort between the Philippine and U.S. governments. The U.S. government provides training, equipment, and infrastructure support.#