FBI rescues more than 100 children in sex-trafficking raid - FOX 35 News Orlando

FBI rescues more than 100 children, arrests 150 pimps in sex-trafficking raid

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  • FBI rescues more than 100 children, arrests 150 pimps in sex-trafficking raidMore>>

  • SEX TRAFFICKING: Survivors welcome weekend FBI sweep with hope

    SEX TRAFFICKING: Survivors welcome FBI sweep with hope

    Tuesday, July 30 2013 10:20 PM EDT2013-07-31 02:20:20 GMT
    The nationwide sweep that netted 150 pimps and rescued 105 child sex victims is welcome news to survivors who were controlled by pimps in their teens, and FOX 9 News spoke with two who broke free.
    The nationwide sweep that netted 150 pimps and rescued 105 child sex victims is welcome news to survivors who were controlled by pimps in their teens, and FOX 9 News spoke with two who broke free.

The FBI launched a 72-hour nationwide operation targeting pimps who prey on children -- an undercover mission that rescued 105 teens ranging mostly in age from 13 to 17 years old, with the youngest victim being 9 years old, authorities said Monday.

Ronald Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's criminal division, said "Operation Cross-Country" -- launched Friday -- included sting operations in 76 U.S. cities that resulted in the arrests of 150 pimps.

No victims were rescued in Minnesota, but investigators did arrest four alleged pimps in the Twin Cities metro area -- two in St. Paul, one in Minneapolis and another in Anoka.

"Hopefully, with the takedown over the last couple of days, we are getting the information out there that law enforcement is going to be on you if you are exploiting children," FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said. "You are not going to be safe in conducting these types of activities."

While taking four pimps off the street may not seem like much locally, Vednita Carter, of Breaking Free, said it could save many young women.

"The average pimp has four to five women in what they call his 'stable,' and they say he makes between $500-$1,500 a day off each woman or child," she said. "That's $500,000 a year -- yes, that's saving a lot of young girls."

Child sex trafficking remains "one of the most prevalent, violent and unconscionable crimes in our country," Hosko said during a news conference about the nationwide raid that was held on Monday morning.

"It is a growing problem -- human trafficking, child exploitation," Loven admitted. "We are trying to get ahead of this so it doesn't become a major problem nationwide."

Yet, some contend that it already is. Just last week, 49 attorneys general from across the country sent a letter to Congress asking for the ability to prosecute sites like Backpage.com in an effort to combat the increasing sexual exploitation of children.


AGS to Congress: 'Every day, children in U.S. are sold for sex'
MORE: http://bit.ly/16fDTZJ


Hosko said law enforcement refers to these young victims as "children with a void." Once the pimp identifies that void and makes every attempt to fill it, a dependency between the child and the perpetrator develops, Hosko said.

He added that the most vulnerable victims forced into sex trafficking range in age from 13 to 16. Most of the children come from either foster care homes or are considered runaways.

Carter, who was herself a victim of sex-trafficking at age 18 but escaped at 20, said pimps often look for vulnerable girls at bus stops, malls or wherever they can approach them.

"They know just what to do to get these little girls to believe that they are going to help them, rescue them and save them from whatever it is they are going through," Carter said.

Now, Carter helps women and children get out of that lifestyle through Breaking Free, and she said victims should know there are options. Now, she hopes organizations like hers will help those who were rescued.

"We work with women who started at that age," she said. "Their lives are just devastated because of it. We can at least offer some type of escape now for these little children that were rescued during this raid -- and it just needs to happen more often."

Since the first "cross-country" operation, about 2,700 children have been recovered and about 1,300 pimps have been arrested. The children involved get placed in protective custody after such raids.

"This operation targeted venues where girls and adults are operated for commercial sex," Hosko said, including places like train tracks, truck stops, casinos and hotels. "The victims cut across racial lines," he said, and span all socioeconomic levels and demographics.

John Ryan, CEO of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, called underage prostitution an "escalating threat against America's children." Ryan congratulated federal, state and local authorities for "bringing to justice those who violently manipulate these children and sell them for sex" during the 72-hour massive operation.

"Many of these children don't have concerned family members who are looking for them," Ryan said.

The FBI joined forces with 230 agencies around the country during the three-day mission, Hosko said. Every FBI field office in the nation was involved in the operation, also referred to as "Innocence Lost."

Hosko said that in the past, child prostitutes have been recovered at major U.S. sporting events, including the NCAA men's college basketball tournament and the Super Bowl.

Drew Oosterbaan of the Department of Justice, who also spoke at the news conference, said a range of state and federal charges will be brought against the pimps apprehended during the operation.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/07/29/fbi-rescues-at-least-105-child-prostitutes-in-nationwide-undercover-operation/#ixzz2aS204XIC

 

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