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U.S. crackdown on child prostitution leads to 104 arrests, 79 children rescued

06-26-2012 13:59 BJT

WASHINGTON, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Seventy-nine children were rescued and 104 pimps arrested in a crackdown on child prostitution by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the FBI said Monday.

The crackdown, code-named Operation Cross Country, was carried out from Friday to Sunday by 8,500 federal, state and local enforcement personnel in 57 cities, said Kevin Perkins, acting executive assistant director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch.

"Child prostitution remains a major threat to children across America," Perkins said. "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."

Operation Cross Country, the sixth this year, is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was created in 2003 by the FBI, in partnership with the Department of Justice and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), to address the growing problem of child sex trafficking in the country.

So far, the operations have rescued more than 2,200 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 1,017 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including eight life terms and the seizure of more than 3.1 million U.S. dollars in assets.

During the operations, law enforcement officials target such places as truck stops, casinos, streets and the Internet, based on intelligence gathered by local officers working in their respective jurisdictions.

Once the child is taken out of harm's way, the real work just begins as the community, social welfare agencies and governmental victim assistance agencies have to work with each child to help them heal the wounds and begin a new life, Perkins said.

Ernie Allen, NCMEC's president, said the latest operation once again demonstrates that child prostitution and sex trafficking don not just occur elsewhere in the world, but "are occurring in American cities and the victims are American kids."

Allen said the best estimate is that at least 100,000 American kids are lured into prostitution annually.

Editor:Sun Luying |Source: Xinhua

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