The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) rescued 168 child victims of sex-trafficking and arrested 281 suspected pimps in its annual countrywide sex-trafficking crackdown last week.
Operation Cross Country was carried out in 106 U.S. cities, according to an official FBI press release. This year’s effort marks the eighth time the FBI has carried out its national child sex-trafficking sting; since 2003, approximately 3,600 sexually exploited minors have been recovered as part of the agency’s Innocence Lost program.
“These are not children living in some faraway place, far from everyday life,” FBI Director James Comey said in a press conference Monday. “These are our children. On our streets. Our truck stops. Our motels. These are America’s children.”
The FBI has established 70 Child Exploitation Task Forces (CETFs) nationwide as part of its efforts to reduce violent crime against children. FBI Special Agent Steve Vienneau said these task forces coordinate with all levels of law enforcement: local, state, and federal.
“The FBI could never succeed in this mission alone,” he said.
In the press release announcing the results of the sting, the FBI also posted a YouTube video detailing one woman’s account of being forced into prostitution. In the video, Nicole, who was 17 when she met a pimp who “took her shopping and showered her with attention,” explains how she hopes her story will help people understand the dangers of trafficking and forced prostitution.