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FBI Arrests 150 Pimps and Rescues 105 Children from Forced Prostitution

A massive effort by federal authorities over the weekend resulted in the rescue of 105 children who were forced into prostitution. A total of 150 pimps and others were arrested by authorities in a mind-boggling, three-day law enforcement sweep that took place simultaneously in 76 American cities, the FBI said Monday.

The victims, almost all girls, were aged 13 to 17 and the largest number of children rescued were in the cities of San Francisco, Detroit, Milwaukee, Denver and New Orleans. 
Called Operation Cross Country, the complex campaign was conducted under the FBI’s Innocence Lost initiative.
“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across the country,” Ron Hosko, assistant director of the bureau’s criminal investigative division, said at a press conference.“We are trying to take this crime out of the shadows and put a spotlight on it,” Hosko said, since the victims are “under-the-radar, below-the-horizon kids” who are largely ignored by the public.The campaign has resulted in the rescue of 2,700 children since 2003, according to the FBI. Investigations and convictions of 1,350 have led to life imprisonment for 10 pimps and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.The FBI has been working alongside the non-profit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for the past decade.
John Ryan, the head of the center, called the problem “an escalating threat against America’s children.”He said many of them are being recruited right out of the foster care system.“We are finding a very disturbing trend,” Ryan said. “They leave foster care and they literally fall off the radar. That’s something that needs to be addressed…With no way to survive on their own, they are lured into a life of being trafficked for sex. When these children are recovered, typically their only possessions are the clothes that they are wearing.”Nearly 450,000 children run away from home each year and one-third of teens living on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home, according to Justice Department estimates.Legislation has been introduced into Congress that would require state law enforcement, foster care and child welfare programs to identify children lured into sex trafficking as victims of abuse and neglect—deeming them eligible for the appropriate protections and services.

“In much of the country today if a girl is found in the custody of a so-called pimp she is not considered to be a victim of abuse, and that’s just wrong and defies common sense,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., co-sponsor of the bill with Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, during a Senate Finance Committee hearing last month.



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