FBI Surveillance Tape
In raids across the country, 105 youngsters were rescued from prostitution by officers, who also arrested 150 alleged pimps, the FBI announced Monday.
Mostly all girls, the minors ranged in age from 13 to 17, and one girl told authorities she had starting turning tricks at 11. Underage prostitutes often work venues such as the Super Bowl, NCAA play-offs and tourist hotspots such as New Jersey’s Atlantic City, authorities said.
“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,” acting Executive Assistant Director Kevin Perkins said Monday at a news conference in Washington, D.C.
Many of the pimped-out youths are runaways from foster care, who never get reported as missing. Others are troubled teens recruited by exploiters who promise a glamorous escape from being homeless, authorities said.
“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.
Operation Cross Country 6 was carried out for three days, beginning Friday. More than 2,500 state, local and federal agents in 76 cities participated.
The FBI also released raw video showing unidentified adults being handcuffed and taken into custody, as well as surveillance footage from hidden cameras in motels showing underage girls and their clients shortly before authoritites swooped in.
The arrests occurred in cities including Atlantic City, N.J., New Haven, Conn., Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Detroit.
The sweeps are part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which was started in 2003. More than 2,200 children have been freed from forced prostitution, the agency says. And 1,000 adults have been convicted of endangering and exploiting children.