Skip to main content

FBI: Nationwide child prostitution sweep leads to 104 arrests, 79 children rescued

By Carol Cratty, CNN
June 29, 2012 -- Updated 1646 GMT (0046 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Operation Cross Country 6 took place from Friday through Sunday
  • The nationwide sweep involved more than 2,500 officers working in 57 cities
  • Children rescued from prostitution operations ranged in age from 13 to 17
  • Children's advocate: At least 100,000 American kids get lured into prostitution every year

Washington (CNN) -- During a three-day law enforcement sweep targeting the problem of teenage prostitution, officers rescued 79 children and arrested 104 alleged pimps, the FBI announced Monday.

U.S. Midwest in crosshairs of child sex trafficking fight

Operation Cross Country 6 took place from Friday through Sunday with more than 2,500 state, local and federal officers working in 57 cities.

FBI Acting Executive Assistant Director Kevin Perkins said the children law enforcement freed from their handlers ranged from 13 to 17 years old with one girl saying she had gotten involved in prostitution when she was 11.

Feds break up child porn ring

Jada Pinkett Smith takes on trafficking

"Many times the children that are taken in in these types of criminal activities are children that are dissaffected, they are from broken homes, they may be on the street themselves -- they are really looking for a meal, they are looking for shelter, they are looking for someone to take care of them, and that's really the first approach that's made," said Perkins.

"Once the child has been taken out of harm's way, then really the story just begins at that point," said Perkins. "That's where the real work starts, where we have to call upon the community, various social welfare agencies, our own office of victim assistance has to work with each child on an individual basis to see what their requirements are.

"This is a very difficult task. These children are very damaged -- very harmed, and they need a great deal of help -- it's really taxing the social welfare agencies and it's something that, going forward, we need to pay particular attention to."

Even though the FBI says 79 children were rescued, officials said there's no guarantee those minors won't be lured back into prostitution.

Hotel chain boosting staff training to fight child prostitution

"A lot of these kids feel like they are in love, and therefore many of them will go back, so it's not only important that they get help, but they need a specialized kind of help," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

According to Perkins, the people exploiting children in this manner are engaged in organized crime and have business plans and strategies. He said such criminals know their market and will move kids from state to state to service clients. The criminals use various methods including the Internet to find vulnerable kids. They also may find them at bus stations or truck stops and offer them help as a first step to winning their confidence.

Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative which was started in 2003. With 47 task forces and working groups, the FBI says more than 2,200 children have been pulled off the streets along with more than 1,000 convictions of people exploiting kids. According to the FBI, many of the convictions have resulted in long prison sentences, including eight life terms.

Despite those figures, the FBI and child advocates said child prostitution continues to be a serious problem and they called on the public to realize it can happen in any town and neighborhood.

Allen said the best estimate is that at least 100,000 American kids get lured into prostitution every year.

2010: Federal crackdown on child prostitution results in 884 arrests

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT