WASHINGTON, DC - Over 100 alleged pimps were arrested and nearly 80 children were rescued during a nationwide law enforcement sweep targeting teenage prostitution over the weekend.
Dubbed Operation Cross Country 6, the effort employed the services of more than 2,500 state local and federal officers working in 57 cities from Friday through Sunday, according to a news report published by CNN.
FBI Acting Executive Assistant Director Kevin Perkins told the cable network that the children law enforcement freed from their handlers ranged from 13 to 17 years old with one girl saying she had gotten involved in prostitution when she was 11.
"Many times the children that are taken in these types of criminal activities are children that are disaffected, they are from broken homes, they may be on the street themselves -- they are really looking for a meal, they are looking for shelter, they are looking for someone to take care of them, and that's really the first approach that's made," Perkins told CNN.
There’s no guarantee the rescued children won’t be lured back into prostitution the FBI told CNN.
Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said a lot of the kids feel like they are in love and, therefore, many of them will go back to the life from which they were rescued from, according to CNN. She said they need specialized kind of help.
Those who exploit children are often engaged in organized crime and have business plans and strategies, Perkins told CNN. Victims are often found on the internet, at bus stations and truck stops and those who exploit them often offer to help to gain confidence, according to CNN’s report.
Since Operation Cross Country started in 2003, more than 2,200 children have been rescued and more than 1,000 people have been convicted, according to CNN. The FBI reports many of the convictions have resulted in long prison sentences, including eight life terms.
Allen told CNN that at least 100,000 American kids get lured into prostitution every year.