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FBI cracks down on child prostitution

October 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
In a major crackdown on child prostitution, hundreds have been arrested for forcing dozens of children, including some in Southern California, into sexual slavery.These raids took place across the nation including in Orange County and Riverside.

The sweep was dubbed, "Operation Cross Country," and it involved authorities from the federal, state and local levels. Monday night, girls sold as sex slaves are off the streets, and hundreds of "pimps" and "johns" have been arrested.

FBI officials say nearly 700 people have been arrested in 36 cities over a three-day operation targeting child prostitution. Fifty-two children have been rescued including two in Southern California.

"There were two juveniles recovered -- rescued, if you will -- in the Riverside area of California. There were approximately four individuals who were pimping young girls who were arrested and taken into custody and there were also a number of adults charged," said Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman.

The FBI posted a video on YouTube showing a series of raids over the weekend. One video from the Washington, D.C., area shows footage from inside a hotel room. According to authorities, most of the girls rescued from the sex-trafficking ring were under 18, with the youngest just 10 years old.

"We're seeing an increase in the domestic trafficking of minors in the United States. They're being trafficked through the Internet, at casinos as well as motels and tracks where traditional prostitutes are being sought after," said Eimiller.

Dozens of pimps have also been arrested. More than 1,500 FBI agents and police officers took part in the nationwide raids, which were based on intelligence provided by local authorities.

The three-day crackdown was part of a much bigger FBI operation called the "Innocence Lost" program, which has recovered nearly 900 children from prostitution since 2003.

But despite the latest arrests, child sex-trafficking is a significant problem in the U.S.

An FBI official said that the girls sold into sex-trafficking rings were not arrested but rather taken into custody, and they will be placed into rehabilitation programs to help them get their lives back on track.


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