A dozen child prostitutes rescued in crackdown

Twelve child prostitutes have been rescued and the 17 pimps they were allegedly forced to work for are in San Francisco Bay area jails as part of nationwide crackdown on child sex trafficking.

The FBI says the children were freed and their pimps taken into custody in the Bay Area as part of a series of sweeps to free exploited children in 76 cities across the country.

The FBI announced Monday that as part of what it calls “Operation Cross Country” 105 kids were rescued nationwide, with San Francisco having the highest number of child prostitutes being rescued during the three days of raids.

Across the country, 159 pimps were arrested on state and federal charges — including 17 in the Bay Area. Only Detroit — with 18 accused pimps arrested — had more arrests.

Assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Ron Hosko, said of the raids:

“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America. 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 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The FBI says about 2,700 children have been rescued and 1,350 people have been convicted — including ten who have been sentenced to life in prison — since the operation began.