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The FBI announced on Monday that 168 children have been rescued in what is being called Operation Cross Country VIII, a nationwide crackdown on children sex trafficking.
According to USA Today, in addition to the children that were rescued, 281 individuals have been arrested as being alleged pimps. There has been a campaign that has been taking place for a week now in which investigators targeted areas that were used to advertise services such as dating and escorts.
The arrest comes after a seven-year investigation in which 3,400 children have been recovered after being used for sex trafficking. The youngest child in this crackdown was only 11 years old.
The President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, John Ryan, said, “Operation Cross Country reveals that children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day.”
In 2003, the Innocence Lost National Initiative was created through the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and this current operation is part of that initiative.
The Los Angeles Times reported that in California, investigators located children who were in areas such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.
In a statement, the assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal division, Linda Caldwell, said, in order to keep their victims in line, child sex traffickers “use fear and force and treat children as commodities of sex.”
Other areas that law enforcement targeted included casinos and truck stops.