Three minors who had been forced into prostitution were rescued in the San Diego area over the last week during an international crackdown on underage human trafficking, the FBI announced Monday.
Additionally, three pimps and 20 adult prostitutes were arrested locally as part of Operation Cross Country X, which took place from Thursday through Sunday.
The minors and the adult prostitutes were provided with victim services from the FBI, county Child Protective Services and non-government organizations, officials said.
Across the United States, 82 minors were rescued and 239 traffickers and associates jailed during the four-day campaign.
FBI Director James Comey and John Clark, director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, touted the results of the sweep at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in San Diego.
“Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population,” Comey said.
“As part of this effort, we are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office of Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”
The 10th staging of the FBI-led drive took place across the United States and, for the first time, in several other countries. Law enforcement partners from Cambodia, Canada, the Philippines and Thailand undertook related actions in their respective countries, authorities said.
In Canada, as part of a corresponding enterprise called Northern Spotlight, authorities recovered 16 children, while in Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand, police rescued 25 children, including a 2-year-old girl.
Operation Cross Country X was the largest in the history of the initiative, with 55 FBI field offices and 74 child-exploitation task forces representing more than 400 law enforcement organizations participating. The policing activities took place in several locations, including hotels, truck stops and street corners, officials said.
The operation is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost Initiative, which began in 2003. Since the inception of the program, more than 6,000 underage victims have been identified and located, according to the federal agency.
— City News Service
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