FBI Operation Rescues 149 Victims of Child Sex Trafficking in Largest Sting in History

Nothing makes me angrier than human trafficking, and especially in cases where it involves children. Thanks to a massive, nationwide sting operation called Operation Cross Country, 149 minor victims were rescued last week by FBI agents and other authorities.

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Not only that, but more than 150 pimps and johns were arrested as well. Thank. God. About 500 agencies worked together with the FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children across 135 American cities to make this sting happen. It's the ninth year it's been done, and this year was the most successful overall.

FBI Director James Comey said that it's his mission to end sex trafficking in our country. He explained, "When kids are treated as a commodity in seedy hotels and on dark roadsides, we must rescue them from their nightmare and severely punish those responsible for that horror."

Amen.

Of the 149 rescued kids, the youngest was 12, three were males, and three were transgender. Being rescued likely saved these kids from continuing on as prostitutes, beholden to their pimps for fear of their lives.

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In fact, law enforcement has had a changing attitude toward prostitution these day, preferring to go after the pimps and johns rather than the prostitutes themselves. Staca Shehan of the National Center for Missing and Exploited children said that many jurisdictions are classifying prostitutes as victims, explaining that many times, the adults in the trade were sold into sex slavery as children.

She told the Huffington Post, "We need to recognize that these kids are victims. The term prostitution is an inadequate one because it implies choice. In reality what we know ... is that it’s not a choice. Most of the time there's abuse, violence, and control that takes place."

It makes me sick to think about, but I am so glad that there's a changing attitude when it comes to this atrocity. These poor vulnerable kids get lured into it, and they get trapped. They need help -- they don't need to be punished.

 

Image via © Roy McMahon/Corbis

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