FBI saves more than 100 teenage girls from prostitution
159 men arrested charged with forcing girls, some as young as 13, to work as prostitutes
The FBI have arrested 159 men charged with forcing about 105 teenage girls to work as prostitutes. Some of the girls were as young as 13. Photograph courtesy of the FBI
The FBI have arrested 159 men charged with forcing about 105 teenage girls to work as prostitutes.
Some of the girls were as young as 13.
The operation was part of a decade-long US Justice Department programme - the Innocence Lost National Initiative - that is intended to break up child prostitution rings.
The programme has led to the convictions of 1,350 people, 10 of whom received life sentences, for pimping-related offenses, according to the FBI.
Over the past decade, roughly 2,700 children were rescued from working as prostitutes through such operations, the agency said. The FBI arranged for victim assistance counsellors working with local child services organizations to place the teenagers in foster or group homes, said Ron Hosko, the assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigations division. No charges would be filed against the girls, he said.
“We are not going to charge child victims of prostitution with prostitution,” he said. “We regard them as victims, as they were not able to make a choice for themselves. The goal is to break the cycle so they can rebuild their lives.”
Most arrests were in Detroit, where 18 pimps were taken into custody and 10 girls were rescued, the FBI said. In San Francisco, 17 pimps were held and 12 girls rescued. There were 17 arrests in Atlanta, and two girls were rescued. There were arrests in more than 70 cities.
The authorities focused on finding prostitutes who were seeking customers on the Web or at places like truck stops and casinos.
After tracking down the young women, officers used information from the teenagers to locate their pimps. Many of the operations were conducted by both federal and local law enforcement officers, along with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a congressionally authorized programme. John Ryan, the head of the centre for missing and exploited children, said the problem of child prostitution was getting worse.
The recent effort, he said, demonstrated “just how many of America’s children are being sold for sex every day, many on the Internet.”