FBI, Law Agencies Reveal Details Of Undercover Operation
OKLAHOMA CITY - The FBI opened up on Tuesday about an undercover operation they conducted to rescue children from the sex trade.
"Operation Cross Country" took place last week producing some startling statistics.
Two hundred thirty-nine traffickers were arrested and 82 children were rescued, nationally.
The arrests in Oklahoma City are a small fraction of those numbers.
Agents rescued one child, a 17-year-old victim, from sex slavery during the undercover sting.
Twelve children reported missing to the Oklahoma City Police Department were also located.
"Even though we did not determine they [12 missing children] were involved in sex trafficking, they could've been because they were in a vulnerable position," said FBI Special Agent Kathryn Peterson.
She led a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
The FBI, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, and Oklahoma City police teamed up once again to reveal the results of the joint-operation late last week.
The arrests of eight pimps and 17 prostitutes were also announced.
Although the focus of "Operation Cross Country" was to save children from the sex trade, the agencies are hopeful the adults involved in prostitution will lead them to others in the underground world of the sex trade.
"They often know who is trafficking children," said Peterson.
The agencies admitted, in some cases, the prostitutes are also victims of human trafficking.
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Director John Scully said they offer victim services to help with that.
"Oftentimes, we find that a pimp has created a situation for them where they are working so we try to get them out of the lifestyle," said Scully.
OBN Human Trafficking agents arrested Karen Sinisterra and Kiana Mongi and both have records.
The previous arrests did not deter them from posting ads on Backpage.com and making dates with potential "Johns" during the sting.
Court records show the women arrived to hotels and agreed to have sex with undercover agents.
During the course of their arrests, the agents uncovered information on the women's cell phones.
Law officers found information about potential "Johns" including Oklahoma City police Lt. Alex Edwards.
Edwards is accused of warning Kiana Mongi about the sting. He also allegedly tried to meet her for paid sex.
"That information became known through one of the investigations," said Oklahoma City Deputy Chief Johnny Kuhlman.
Edwards was arrested as a result.
The FBI explained no other potential "Johns" were arrested during the sweep because the efforts were focused on saving children.
"We still have ongoing investigations as a result of this sweep," Scully said.
He said his agents review all information found on digital devices and more arrests could be made as a result.
In the meantime, charges are pending against Edwards and the other 25 suspects.
Edwards was jailed on complaints of conspiracy to commit a felony, aiding and abetting prostitution, obstructing justice and unauthorized use of a computer.
He is out on bond. An administrative investigation is now underway.