Operation arrests 150 on child exploitation/pimping charges

ATLANTA -- A joint operation by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies targeting child exploitation and prostitution has resulted in the recovery of 105 children and the arrests of 150 accused pimps, the FBI said.

In Georgia, arrests in the Atlanta resulted in the recovery of two children and eight suspects on pimping-related charges. In Augusta, FBI officials said, nine people were arrested on prostitution related charges and two on exploitation/pimping charges.

The operation, which was conducted over a three-day period ending Monday, was named Operation Cross Country VII and was aimed at commercial child sex trafficking throughout the United States. The collaberation included enforcement actions in 76 cities across 47 FBI divisions nationwide and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

"Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America," said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. "This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere and the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable."

Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and NCMEC, to address the growing problem of child prostitution.

"Operation Cross Country demonstrates just how many of America's children are being sold for sex every day, many on the Internet," said John Ryan, CEO of NCMEC. "We're honored and proud to partner with the FBI, which has taken the lead in tackling this escalating problem."

To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 2,700 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 1,350 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 10 life terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.