BEIJING: US federal officials arrested almost 700 people, including 60 pimps, and rescued 50 children in a three-day crackdown on child prostitution in 36 cities, FBI announced Monday.
The three-day operation, dubbed Operation Cross Country, included enforcement actions conducted on the federal, state and local levels across 30 FBI divisions nationwide. Almost 1,600 agents and officers took part in the operation.
It is part of FBI's ongoing Innocence Lost National Initiative, which was created in 2003 with the goal of ending sex trafficking of children in the United States.
To date, the initiative has rescued nearly 900 children, led to the conviction of 510 pimps, madams and their associates, and seized 3.1 million dollars in assets, according to FBI.
"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," Asst. Atty. Gen. Lanny A. Breuer was quoted as saying in a statement.
Authorities say the youngest victim is 10 years old and most of the children recovered in the raids have been girls.
"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," Kevin Perkins, assistant director of FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, said in a written statement.