Local Agencies Participate in Nationwide Initiative Targeting Child Sex Traffickers #GVCopBeat

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Last week, several local law enforcement agencies took part in the eleventh annual Operation Cross Country.  This initiative, spearheaded by the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, targets the criminals responsible for the sex trafficking of children.

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work.”

Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003. Since its creation, the program has resulted in the identification and recovery of more than 6,500 children from child sex trafficking, and prosecutors have obtained more than 30 life sentences in cases against traffickers and their associates.

Over 500 law enforcement agencies across the country participated in this year’s operation.  Locally, the Grand Junction Police Department, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, the Western Colorado Drug Task Force, the Fruita Police Department, the Palisade Police Department, the Colorado State Patrol, the US Marshall’s Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked together to make three arrests:

  • William Stephenson, 49, of Grand Junction
    • Attempted Sex Assault (M2)
    • Soliciting for Child Prostitution (F3)
    • Internet Luring of a Child (F4)
      • Remains in custody on a $25,000 bond
  • Steele Stevens, 28, of Grand Junction
    • Internet Luring of a Child (F4)
    • Attempted Sexual Assault on a Child (F4)
    • Soliciting for Child Prostitution (F3)
    • Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor (F4)
      • Released on a $25,000 bond
  • Charles Verquer, 32, of Delta
    • Internet Luring of a Child (F4)
    • Sexual Assault on a Child (F4)
    • Patronizing a Prostituted Child (F3)
    • Soliciting for Child Prostitution (F3)
    • Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor (F4)
    • Resisting Arrest (M2)
      • Released on a $25,000 Cash Bond

 

 

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