Authorities rescued 105 children who were forced into prostitution and arrested 150 pimps and others in a three-day law enforcement sweep in 76 American cities,the FBI said Monday. The victims,almost all girls,range in age from 13 to 17.
The largest numbers of children rescued were in San Francisco,Detroit,Milwaukee,Denver and New Orleans. The campaign,known as Operation Cross Country,was conducted under the FBIs Innocence Lost initiative.
Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across the country, Ron Hosko,assistant director of the bureaus criminal investigative division,said.
The FBI said the campaign has rescued 2,700 children since 2003. The investigations and convictions of 1,350 have led to life imprisonment for 10 pimps and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.
For the past decade,the FBI has been attacking the problem in partnership with a non-profit group,the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
John Ryan,the head of the centre,called the problem an escalating threat against Americas children.
The Justice Department has estimated that nearly 450,000 children run away from home each year and one-third of teens living on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours.
Congress has introduced legislation requiring state law enforcement,foster care and child welfare programmes to identify children lured into sex trafficking as victims of abuse eligible for protection.