Dozens of children have been rescued and 281 pimps have been arrested as part of a child sex trafficking sting over the past week, according to information released today from the FBI.
The 168 children, many of whom had never been reported missing, were recovered during an annual nationwide FBI crackdown, according to CBS. Dubbed Operation Cross Country VIII, it's now in its eighth year. While arrests were made across the country, the largest number of juveniles recovered were the 18 found in the Denver area, followed by 16 in the Cleveland area.
“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 the FBI's release. “They use fear and force and treat children as commodities of sex to be sold again and again."
Jackson, Miss., had the most pimp arrests with 19, followed by 17 arrested in New Orleans, according to FBI data. For those wondering what the operation looked like on the ground, the FBI has provided raw video of Operation Cross Country in Jackson.
Since it's inaugural iteration, the FBI has identified and recovered around 3,600 children who have been sexually exploited as part of Operation Cross Country. The massive undertaking targets casinos, truck stops and websites that offer escort services. Authorities in Portland said that the Oregon operation recovered 20 adult prostitutes, many of whom had been trafficked since they were 13 or 14-years-old.
“Sex traffickers are selling kids—our kids—every day in motels, on the street and in our neighborhoods for sex. Over time, the children age into adulthood—but the impact of this victimization continues for each of them, their families, and the community as a whole,” said Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.