It was a busy weekend in the fight against sex trafficking. The FBI has announced that it conducted a three-day sweep that resulted in the rescue of 79 teens who were being held against their wills by sex-trafficking rings across the country. The FBI cooperated with state and local law enforcement authorities in the sting operation, which began on Thursday and also resulted in 104 alleged pimps being arrested in 57 different cities.
The teenage victims were found at places like hotels, truck stops, and storefronts, and they ranged in age from 13 to 17. There were mostly girls, except for two boys among the group, and all of the kids were U.S. citizens. Tragically, one of them has reportedly been involved in prostitution since the age of 11. At the moment, they're being held by law enforcement until they can be placed with child welfare agencies.
This operation was part of a larger effort begun in 2003 to fight the sex trafficking of children. Kevin Perkins, the acting executive assistant director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, says the children rescued this weekend were not isolated incidents but rather ended up in that situtaion as a result of "criminal enterprises" that routinely lure children in by using social media and then keep them captive by threatening to do harm to their families. The kids are then usually trafficked around to different cities. While it sounds like something ripped out of an on SVU episode, it's sadly all too real—and it's happening all across the country every day.