Children in California rescued in nationwide sex-trafficking bust, FBI says

More than two dozen children in California rescued during nationwide operation targeting child prostitution

More than two dozen children in California were rescued during a week-long nationwide crackdown on commercial sex trafficking, federal officials announced Monday.

State, local and federal officials also arrested at least 38 alleged pimps in California during the crackdown, dubbed "Operation Cross Country," according to an FBI statement.

The children were found in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento areas.

Nationwide, law enforcement officials in 106 cities recovered 168 children who had been forced into prostitution, and arrested 281 pimps.

Leslie R. Caldwell, assistant attorney general for the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, said in a statement that child sex traffickers "use fear and force and treat children as commodities of sex."

"Child sex traffickers create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims,” Caldwell said. 

The operation was established in 2003 as part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address the increasing number of child prostitution cases.

During the operation, law enforcement officials typically targeted casinos, websites advertising escort services and truck stops, according to the FBI.

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