FBI Intelligence Analyst Jamie Konstas has made major inroads fighting child sex trafficking in the United States by helping build, manage and utilize a groundbreaking national online database that allows federal, state and local law enforcement officials to access detailed information about pimps and child victims.
Konstas’ innovative national database helps authorities identify child victims of prostitution, collect and track intelligence regarding suspected pimps, and build investigations. Her work has led to the recovery of more than 1,000 child victims and the successful prosecutions of more than 500 pimps and predators.
Prior to the advent of the database, which now has some 22,000 records, local law enforcement authorities had few resources to help them track down exploited children or share information, especially when these children were taken across state lines.
“We recognized that pimps were taking children across the nation,” said Konstas. “Investigators had physical binders of victims’ photographs and the pimps they were trying to identify. We determined there needed to be a national database to allow them to share information with other investigators working child prostitution matters in other cities.”
The database includes information and pictures of missing children who are being trafficked for sex, allowing law enforcement to more easily identify them. Konstas said this had helped investigators identify juveniles who sometimes provide fictitious names because of fear of repercussions from the sex traffickers.
The database also contains information on pimps and madams, who often go by various pseudonyms, and now can be cross-referenced from prior arrests or investigations in various parts of the country.
The sale of children for sex may seem unimaginable to most Americans, yet it is happening all over the country, every day, and in every city. It is estimated that roughly 100,000 children a year are bought and sold for sex in the United States.
According to Polaris Project, an organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking, the average age for a child entering the sex trade in the United States is 13 years old. Many have been kidnapped, are runaways or foster care children, and some get caught up on a dare or a lark and then find that they cannot escape the sexual servitude.
Working in the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Unit, Konstas is assigned to the Innocence Lost National Initiative, which combines the resources of the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to combat the commercial exploitation of children through prostitution.
The national initiative has led to the development of 38 task forces and working groups comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that coordinate efforts, use the database and rely on Konstas’ expertise in making sense of the voluminous information.
“Her role day-to-day is to connect the dots of the cases nationwide,” said Michael Langeman, a supervisory special agent with the FBI. “The pimps travel from city to city, so she can make connections as they travel and identify trends.”
Ernie Allen, founder and head of NCMEC, called Konstas the “glue” of the entire operation.
“She takes it very personally when someone hurts a child. She can tell you every name, where they come from, and how old they are,” said Allen. “When we are searching for a missing kid, we search our databases, we search Craigslist, and we compare images of kids being sold for sex. Every time we make an arrest, Jamie has been the clearinghouse.”
Section Chief Dave Johnson of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Section, said child sex trafficking is “one of those issues where if you don’t look for it, you’re not going to find it, but if you do look for it, you find it everywhere.”
“It’s been hard to get state and local law enforcement to even look at it, and it was an underreported issue and a neglected issue, but Jamie’s work and this program have started to change that,” Johnson said.
Most recently, Konstas coordinated a series of national “sweeps” when numerous cities target pimps and underage-looking prostitutes during consecutive two- to three-day periods. Konstas runs new pictures through the system, cross-checks the database and provides immediate support for police on the ground.
“She is incredibly effective during these sweeps, a great leader,” said Michelle Collins, vice president of NCMEC’s Exploited Child Division. “By collaborating across agencies and combining resources, we are able to save children. We are even able to solve missing children cases through these sweeps.”
While Konstas could have moved to other positions at the FBI after seven years, her personal mission to help exploited children has kept her on the job.
“She’s very dedicated, and because of her dedication and her tenacity, she has really done incredible work,” said Allen. “For her, this is not a job, this is a calling.”
This medalist was the recipient of the Justice and Law Enforcement Medal. This medal was combined with the Homeland Security category in 2013, and renamed the Safety, Security and International Affairs Medal in 2020.