"Operation Cross Country" sees 104 arrests and 79 victims rescued
June 27, 2012
The FBI has announced the results of the latest nationwide sweep of
prostitution rings that prey on children. Over a three-day period, FBI
agents with state and local police officials "rescued" 79 minors and
arrested 104 pimps. Acting Executive Assistant Director Kevin Perkins
briefed reporters on this sixth deployment of "Operation Cross Country,"
describing how child prostitution has evolved from a local crime to a
nationwide problem dominated by organized crime groups "with a business
strategy" that recruit vulnerable children in social media, chat lines
and text messaging.
Perkins said the girls are "of
tender age, 11, 12 and 13 years," enticed with cell phones and other
gifts but also with offers of basic food and shelter. The children soon
discover that there is no way out.
"They are told, you
can be killed and we can injure your parents. Just like any kind of a
hostage, they're being held against their will," Perkins said.
Allen, President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children, which joined the FBI in its announcement, said many
communities have turned a blind eye to child prostitution. But Allen
says the deployment of 2,500 officers in 57 cities in this operation
shows that public attitudes are changing.
"This is not
just a problem on the other side of the world. It is happening in U.S.
cities, and average people doing average things can help put an end to
it," he said, adding that the FBI's hotline for cyber-crimes has handled
12,000 tips about child trafficking and prostitution.
and Perkins both called for an increase in social services for the
prostitutes themselves since many have nowhere to go when they are
released from police custody. The FBI's Office of Victim Assistance
steps in to help but comprehensive services are needed. Allen said,
"these kids are really damaged. They require a specialized kind of
He added: "After an earlier operation, I was
called by a prosecutor who said, 'I know I'm not supposed to lock her up
but my domestic violence shelters won't take her, the runaway shelters
won't take her so I have no choice but to put her in secure detention
for her own protection.' But our hope is that America is waking up to
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