Fox News is reporting that the 72-hour sting, dubbed "Operation Cross-Country" was launched by the FBI on Friday in 76 U.S. cities. A total of 105 teens, mostly ranging in age from 13 to 17 with one victim as young as nine, were freed. More than 230 state agencies participated in the raids which rounded up 150 pimps.
Child sex trafficking remains "one of the most prevalent, violent and unconscionable crimes in our country," said Ronald Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's criminal division during a news conference Monday morning.
"This operation targeted venues where girls and adults are operated for commercial sex," Hosko said, such as train tracks, truck stops, casinos and hotels.
"The victims cut across racial lines," he said, and span all socioeconomic levels and demographics.
John Ryan, CEO of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, congratulated federal, state and local authorities for "bringing to justice those who violently manipulate these children and sell them for sex."
Underage prostitution is an escalating threat against America's children, he said, with many being difficult to track because they "don't have concerned family members who are looking for them."
The most at-risk children for sex trafficking range in age from 13 to 16 and come from either foster homes or are considered runaways.
A range of state and federal charges will be brought against the pimps who were apprehended during the mission.
This latest operation was the largest of its kind and was conducted under the FBI's "Innocence Lost" initiative which has resulted in rescuing 2700 children since 2003.
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