The FBI announced the rescue of 105 child sex-trafficking victims Friday. Coordinated raids involving more than 70 cities comprised the FBI's largest action to date concerning the recovery of sexually exploited children. Ronald Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, said Operation Cross Country VII brought law enforcement agencies to streets, motels, casinos, and social media platforms.
The youngest child recovered in the weekend operation was reportedly 13 years old. The most vulnerable age for potential targets is between 13 and 16 years of age.
Ronald Hosko, Assistant Director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, said 150 pimps were arrested in the raids. The pimps preyed specifically on troubled children, including children from broken homes. In some instances, they used a popular website called 'Backpage' to sell the children for sex.
“The pitches tend to be: Girls are enticed with compliments or offers, do they want to make some money,” Hosko said. “Then they are trapped into this cycle that involves drugs, that involves physical abuse. It may involve torture.”
Since its 2003 inception, the Innocence Lost National Initiative of which Operation Cross Country is a part has led to the identification and recovery of 2,700 sexually exploited children. The initiative has also resulted in sizable sentences for convicted pimps, including eight federal life sentences and imprisonment ranging from 15 to 50 years.
To learn more about underage sex trafficking, check out Youth Radio's Peabody Award-winning investigation here.
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