July 29, 2013
The FBI announced Monday the arrests of 150 people and recovery of 105 children involved in child prostitution rings across the country.
The 76-city sweep, conducted in the past three days, represents the largest such law enforcement action focused on children forced into sexual slavery, federal authorities said.
Assistant FBI Director Ron Hosko, head of the bureau’s criminal division, said the children ranged from 13 to 17 years old. The youngest of the victims was allegedly being offered up by her father, who also was allegedly involved in videotaping his daughter’s sexual encounters.
“We have victims whose new normal is sexual abuse,” Hosko said. “We are trying to take this crime out of the shadows and put a spotlight on it.”
In operations involving 230 separate law enforcement agencies, authorities either made arrests or child recoveries from Atlanta to Los Angeles. The weekend action, called Operation Cross Country, also is the latest in a national campaign that has helped recover 2,700 children since 2005.
Hosko said the children, generally recruited from foster care or group homes, were being offered up on Internet sites, at truck stops, casinos and street corners.
In addition to at least one parent, the alleged pimps included individuals acting alone and some with affiliations to organized crime. In many cases, Hosko said, the children “don’t see any avenues of escape” from their handlers.