By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/24/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
A hundred and sixty-eight children are now free from the shackles of forced sexual slavery today after a nationwide effort to halt trafficking. In the operation, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies conducted a nationwide operation resulting in the recovery of 168 children who were being victimized through prostitution, the FBI announced.
Nearly 3,600 children have been saved from the streets to date.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The child sex trafficking operation, dubbed Operation Cross Country, included law enforcement actions in 106 U.S. cities. Efforts in 54 FBI field divisions resulted in the arrests of 281 pimps who now face state and federal charges.
"Targeting and harming America's children through commercial sex trafficking is a heinous crime, with serious consequences," FBI Director James B. Comey said in a statement. "Every child deserves to be safe and sound. Through targeted measures like Operation Cross Country, we can end the cycle of victimization."
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The operations began with local law enforcement officials who monitored truck stops, casinos, streets, and Web sites advertising dating or escort services. Intelligence was gathered and the resulting arrests uncovered organized efforts to prostitute and exploit women and children.
"Child sex traffickers create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims," Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, said in a statement. "They use fear and force and treat children as commodities of sex to be sold again and again. This operation puts traffickers behind bars and rescues kids from their nightmare so they can start reclaiming their childhood."
Operation Cross Country was part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative established in 2003 by the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division in partnership with the DOJ and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Nearly 3,600 children have been saved from the streets to date. Investigations coupled with 1,450 subsequent convictions have resulted in the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets and 14 life sentences, according to the FBI.
"Operation Cross Country reveals that children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day," John Ryan, President and CEO of NCMEC, said. "We're proud to partner with the FBI and provide support to both law enforcement and victim specialists in the field as they help survivors take that first step toward freedom."
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