The FBI announced this morning that 105 children were rescued from forced prostitution as a result of raids in 76 American cities.
Arrested were 150 people, including a number described as pimps.
“Operation Cross Country VII” was the largest such campaign so far under the FBI’s “Innocence Lost” program, which has freed 2,700 children in ten years, according to the FBI.
"Forty-seven FBI divisions took part ... along with more than 3,900 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers and agents representing 230 separate agencies," according to the FBI.
The Philadelphia Division of the FBI helped rescue two juveniles, but made no arrests during the three-day operation, according to the FBI. The Newark, N.J., Division made five arrests.
Assisting in the area efforts were Tinicun Township, Upper Merion, Philadelphia and Bensalem police, along with the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division and the Warrant Unit of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, according to Carrie Adamowski, spokeswoman for the FBI in Philadelphia.
The highest totals were from San Francisco (12 juveniles, 17 arrests) and Detroit (10 juveniles, 17 arrests). Milwaukee saw 10 rescues, no arrests.
Investigators used social media websites and classified ads to help set up the three-day operation, according to Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.
“Operation Cross Country demonstrates just how many of America’s children are being sold for sex every day, many on the Internet,” said John Ryan, CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “We are honored and proud to partner with the FBI, which has taken the lead in tackling this escalating problem.”
“This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere and that the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable,” Hosko said.
An FBI video of various arrests includes clips labeled "Atlantic County, New Jersey Child Exploitation Task Force," followed by "Motel-Hotel Undercover Operations."
A Philadelphia Police spokeswoman said she had not heard of any department involvement.
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.