17 arrested in East Tennessee as part of child sex trafficking

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Seventeen people were arrested in East Tennessee over the past week as part of an operation led by the FBI to address commercial child sex trafficking in the United States.

FBI Knoxville, along with the Knox County Sheriff's Office, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, Chattanooga Police Department, Red Bank Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations conducted what they're calling Operation Cross Country VIII.

Eight women were arrested for prostitution, four women were arrested for promoting prostitution, two women were arrested for human trafficking, and three men were cited for solicitation.

Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to address the growing problem of child prostitution.

To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 3,400 children from being exploited. The investigations and subsequent 1,450 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 14 life terms.