THE BLOG
08/01/2013 02:00 pm ET | Updated Oct 01, 2013

Operation Cross Country: Too Little, Too Late... Unless We Fix the Focus

So let me get this straight, FBI. You have your full federal arsenal available, along with 76 cities' law-enforcement agencies working together to gather up as many bad guys as possible, and you rope in approximately 159 "pimps." Is this all you have to show for your nation-wide efforts?

Give me a break.

Now, don't get me wrong. When it comes to human trafficking, any arrests are better than no arrests; however, the numbers just seem a little lackluster to me in light of the resources expended. As the Huffington Post recently reported, the FBI did recover 105 juvenile victims of sex-trafficking through its most recent "sweep." Granted, 105 victims saved is a huge blessing, not only for the victims themselves, but also for the families of those victims as well. Moreover, there's always the argument to be made that the "streets are safer" now that a few more sex-peddlers have been hauled off to the pokey to face the piper and the punishment to follow.

But the real story, in my humble opinion, is how weak the FBI's most recent showing really is compared to its previous outings.

"Operation Cross Country" is the current incarnation of the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative. In fact, it is the seventh sweep of its kind since 2003. According to the FBI's official website, this year's reclaimed-children count raises its total to over 2,700 sex-trafficking victims the Bureau has saved from the senseless slavery of the sex trade. I'll actually take a brief moment to applaud the agency, as this year's sweep rescued the most victims out of all of the seven that have been conducted thus far.

That's impressive when you you look at the total number of victims rescued as a whole...which, in some sense, should be the overriding goal of the program. Still, the numbers are not nearly as convincing when you break down the figures for the perps, though.

Operation Cross Country 2013, which by its own admission is the agency's "largest enforcement action to date," netted only 159 scum-bags. Now, I use that term sparingly, but that's my honest opinion. It takes a special kind of scum to sell children into sexual slavery, and that's coming from a guy who protects constitutional rights for a living. A total of 159 scum bags was all they could manage to catch. Forty-seven FBI divisions and more than 3,900 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers and agents, and all they could round up was 159 criminals. Call me crazy, but that number seems pretty damn low.

Really, my biggest concern here is how measly that number is compared to previous years.

According to the FBI's website, Operation Cross Country (OCC) I led to more than 350 arrests. When the numbers were tallied again after OCC II, 630 law enforcement personnel pulled in 642 arrests. During OCC III, law enforcement agencies in 29 cities netted 571 arrests. During its fourth installment, the number of cities participating in OCC grew to 36, and the 1,599 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers netted nearly 700 arrests of pimps, johns, and prostitutes.

OCC V was the most successful from a pure arrest standpoint: that incarnation resulted in the arrest of approximately 885 individuals associated with the American sex trade in 40 cities. This feat was accomplished by approximately 2,100 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers.

However, a year later the numbers seemed to be much more skewed. Instead of releasing the number of total arrests, the FBI instead seemed to focus only on the number of "pimps" arrested. That trend has continued over to this year's Operation, with the authorities only disclosing the arrests of 159 pimps.

In my home state of Oklahoma, there was a total of 3 children rescued. However, there were only 13 pimps picked up in Oklahoma City. Consequently, Oklahoma City's FBI division had the fourth highest total number of pimps arrested out of the 47 FBI divisions covering 76 different cities. As a criminal defense attorney who regularly handles sex crimes, I can tell you that the proportion is extremely small compared to the population of perverts at large.

So what gives? Why have the arrest numbers gone down so drastically over the last two years of the ongoing operation? The FBI says that this year was its most successful, with a "30-40% increase in identifying both victims and pimps." Statements like these lead me to believe that the FBI has now shifted its focus to an attempt to halt only half the crime.

The drastic decline in the number of arrests shows that the agencies are only focusing on the "pimps" and the child victims. That, my friends, is a recipe for a losing battle. Authorities are not focusing on the adult prostitutes and the johns who employ them, and they are failing themselves and the war they are waging.

Maybe I'm being completely cynical, but I have to view the sex-trade just as any other business... and that means it is governed by the laws of "supply and demand." You cut out either or, and you won't have a business that is going to draw a profit. If the business isn't drawing a profit, it won't survive. As long as we leave the prostitutes and johns out there, the business will continue, and more and more children will continue to fall prey to the predators who supply them and the monsters who buy them.