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WASHINGTON: Seventy-nine children were rescued and 104 pimps arrested in a crackdown on child prostitution by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The crackdown code-named Operation Cross Country was carried out from Friday to Sunday by 8,500 federal, state and local enforcement personnel in 57 cities, Xinhua news agency reported.
Kevin Perkins, acting executive assistant director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, said: "Child prostitution remains a major threat to children across America. We are working with our partners to disrupt and put behind bars individuals and members of criminal enterprises who sexually exploit children."
Operation Cross Country is the sixth this year and is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative formed in 2003 by the FBI in partnership with the Department of Justice and National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Operations have so far rescued more than 2,200 children from the streets. Investigations and 1,017 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including eight life terms and the seizure of more than US$3.1 million in assets.
Law enforcement officials usually target such places as truck stops, casinos, streets and the Internet based on intelligence gathered by local officers working in their respective jurisdictions.
NCMEC president Ernie Allen said the latest operation shows that child prostitution and sex trafficking do not just occur elsewhere in the world, but "are occurring in American cities and the victims are American kids."
According to Allen, at least 100,000 American kids are lured into prostitution annually. Bernama