FBI rescues 79 minors from sex slavery in major nationwide raid
The FBI and local law enforcement agencies rescued 79 minors during a
three-day raid around the country, the agency announced.
Operation Cross Country VI targeted 57 cities nationwide, involved some
2,500 officers and resulted in the arrest of more than 100 pimps. The sweep
was executed Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
"Child prostitution remains a major threat to children across America," said
FBI acting executive assistant director Kevin Perkins. "It is a violent and
deplorable crime, and we are working with our partners to disrupt and put
behind bars individuals and members of criminal enterprises who would
sexually exploit children."
Of the 79 minors rescued, all but two were girls, and the youngest was 13,
according to Perkins. She had been a sex slave since she was 11.
"These are our kids. They belong to this community, and we are responsible
for them," said Greg Fowler, FBI special agent in charge in Portland, Ore., in
a separate press release. "We cannot and will not stand by and allow pimps
to profit off them and 'johns' to use and abuse them."
Local authorities arrested one minor and one pimp in New York and three
pimps in Newark, according to the FBI website.
"It is clear that child prostitution and sex trafficking do not just occur
somewhere else on the other side of the world," National Center for Missing &
Exploited Children president Ernie Allen said at a press conference. "These
insidious crimes are occurring in American cities and the victims are American
The raid was part of a larger effort the FBI calls Innocence Lost Task Forces.
To date, there have been 47 of these task forces, which have rescued more
than 2,200 minors and resulted in the convictions of more than 1,000 pimps,
the agency says. These convictions carry sentences of 25 years to life in
Perkins says that rescuing the minors is only half the battle: “Once the child
has been taken out of harm's way … the story just begins at that point.”
Once these children are taken off the streets, authorities call in the NCMEC
to offer the kids counseling and assistance in adjusting back to normal life.
"A lot of these kids … will go back," Allen says. "It's not only important
that they get help -- but they need a specialized kind of help."
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