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The FBI said today that a prostitution operation timed for the Super Bowl in New Jersey this weekend helped in the recovery of 16 juveniles, with some as young as 13 years old.
In a statement, the bureau said that it had worked with over 50 local law enforcement divisions, focusing on underage sex trafficking. The operation resulted in the arrests of 45 pimps and their associates. Some traveled to New Jersey and other area states just for sex trafficking, the FBI said.
“It is the most significant operation we've had around a big event,” Michael Osborne of the FBI's Violent Crimes Against Children Unit told ABC News. “This is the most recoveries we've had at one time."
“High-profile special events, which draw large crowds, have become lucrative opportunities for child prostitution criminal enterprises,” Ron Hosko, the division’s assistant director, said in a statement. “The FBI and our partners remain committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and putting those who try to profit from this type of criminal activity behind bars.”
Most of the juveniles were girls, ranging from 13 to 17. Some were high school students and others had been reported as missing by their guardians.
Osborne explained to ABC News that these are considered “recoveries” because the children will not be charged with a crime. It is considered child exploitation and officials will help them get a better life through programs. “We provide everything we can to try to pull them out of their situation, like education information and family counseling,” he told the site.
The FBI said that it and its partners have recovered 3,100 children and 1,400 convictions, including 11 life sentences. The Super Bowl operation was part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 by the FBI, the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, focusing on rising child prostitution.
image: Wikimedia Commons