FBI rescues children, arrests pimps in sex-traffic crackdown

Authorities recover children in California cities during nationwide crackdown on commercial sex trafficking

Authorities recovered children in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento during a weeklong nationwide crackdown on commercial sex trafficking.

Nationwide, law enforcement officials in 106 cities recovered 168 children who had been forced into prostitution. Of those, more than two dozen children in California were rescued, officials said.

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

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

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.

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