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A recent three-day sweep of child sex-trafficking rings across the country resulted in the rescue of 79 child prostitutes aged 13 to 17, the FBI announced Monday.
Reuters reports that hundreds of FBI agents and thousands of state and local law enforcement officers carried out sting operations in 57 cities across the United States, resulting in the arrest of 104 alleged pimps. The teen sex workers were recovered from truck stops, hotels, casinos, and "tracks" where prostitutes are known to work, according to msnbc.com.
The minors, all U.S. citizens, were allegedly drafted into prostitution through social media or held with threats against them or their families. The operation was the sixth in the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative launched in 2003 to fight child sex trafficking across the country.
The size of the operation illustrates the extent of the child sex-trafficking industry in the United States. "People in this country believe it is only a problem that happens somewhere else," Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told Reuters. He estimates that 100,000 American minors are victims of child prostitution every year.