CINCINNATI -- In the wake of three recent arrests related to accusations of harassment and extortion of minors, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants parents to know how his agency is protecting children from human trafficking.
Federal authorities said they apprehended 20-year-old Cody Lee Jackson of Norwood on charges of coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity and production of child pornography, accused of holding two victims against their will in Blue Ash after meeting at least one of them on Facebook.
This week, 27-year-old Bryan Harris appeared in federal court, accused of harassing underage girls on social media, forcing them to send him nude photos and engage in sex acts, according to court records.
Then there’s Nicholas Kurtz of Clearcreek Township, whom federal agents accused of coercing underage girls into becoming his sex slaves, forcing them to send him nude photos, engage in on-camera sex acts and mutilate themselves. Kurtz is currently in police custody.
All this in the last week.
During a visit to the Tri-State Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey had a message for child predators: “The pimps will understand this is about children, and you are taking your life in your hands if you put a child out on the streets as a prostitute.”
Comey said the recent arrests were a part of his agency's national law enforcement initiative Operation Cross Country, which he said, in the last week alone, has rescued 149 sexually exploited children and arrested more than 150 accused offenders, nationwide.
The initiative partners federal agents with local and state law enforcement and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to target child traffickers. This most recent push was the ninth and largest such enforcement action to date, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the FBI.
This year’s enforcement coordinated 73 agencies and more than 500 law enforcement officials, and stretched across 135 American cities, officials said.
“We are proud to partner with the FBI and provide support to both law enforcement and victim specialists in the field as they work to locate and recover survivors of child sex trafficking,” said Linda Krieg, NCMEC’s acting chief executive officer, in the release. “The number of children recovered and pimps arrested in this year’s operation highlights the importance of these efforts today and every day in protecting our children.”
Comey said the internet has changed the game when it comes to child predation. "The internet is the world. You wouldn't let your children wander around ... and when you let them on the internet, they're wandering the entire world," he said.
“It might be that it’s hopeless to end all prostitution, but child prostitution is a separate thing,” Comey added. “We want to make clear that people are going to get life sentence for this.”
All three Tri-State men are facing maximum sentences of life in prison, if convicted.
For more information on the FBI’s child trafficking victim assistance program, click or tap here.