The FBI arrested 150 pimps and rescued more than 100 children in an undercover operation targeting child prostitution.
The sting occurred across the country in 76 cities. At a news conference, Ronald Hosko, the FBI criminal division’s assistant director, said child sex trafficking is “one of the most prevalent, violent and unconscionable crimes in our country.”
Most of the 105 child victims were aged from 13 to 16 years old, although the youngest was 9, Fox News reports
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In a press release, Hosko said
, “Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America. This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere, and the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable.”
The operation was part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which was launched in 2003.
In an article about the operation on the FBI site, Special Agent Kurt Ormberg explained that children with a void in their lives are the most susceptible to sexual exploitation.
“That void might be related to family, food, or shelter, but it’s a void that needs to be filled, and pimps fill it,” Ormberg said. “Too often, these young victims don’t think they have anywhere else to turn.”
This latest operation, called Operation Cross Country, lasted three days, involved 47 FBI divisions, and more than 3,900 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers and agents. It was the largest operation under Innocence Lost.
The FBI reports that Innocence Lost has resulted in the identification nd recovery of more than 2,700 children who have been sexually exploited.
Of the 76 cities targeted, Detroit had the highest number of pimps arrested at 18, and was followed closely by San Francisco with 17.
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