Some stories are just hard to read or hear about. Child prostitution nears the top of that list.
But it's a tragic reality. And it happens not just in undeveloped countries visited by sex tourists but in the U.S. too.
To that end, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that in the last three days as part of a series of operations conducted with state and local officers, it rescued 52 children from prostitution and arrested 700 people, including 60 pimps on state and local charges.
The youngest child prostitute was a 10-year old.
The rescues and arrests were part of Operation Cross Country IV, the latest in an effort that has stretched over years to combat the sexual abuse of children.
An excerpt from an FBI press release:
"Child prostitution continues to be a significant problem in our country, as evidenced by the number of children rescued through the continued efforts of our crimes against children task forces," said Kevin Perkins, Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. "There is no work more important than protecting America's children and freeing them from the cycle of victimization. Through our strategic partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies, we are able to make a difference."
Task Force operations usually begin as local actions, targeting such places as truck stops, casinos, street "tracks," and Internet websites, based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions. Initial arrests are often violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested often uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further develop this information in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and file federal charges where appropriate.
To date, the 34 Innocence Lost Task Forces and Working Groups have recovered nearly 900 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 510 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including multiple 25-years-to-life sentences and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.
"It is repugnant that children in these times could be subjected to the great pain, suffering, and indignity of being forced into sexual slavery for someone else's profit," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, "but Cross Country IV has shown us that the scourge of child prostitution still exists on the streets of our cities. The FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and all the state and local law enforcement agencies that contributed to this operation are to be commended for their dedication to this cause. We will all continue to work tirelessly to end the victimization of innocent children."