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Prostitution sweep aims to rescue young victims

November 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A week-long nationwide crackdown on sex trafficking led to 72 arrests in the Bay Area alone. The FBI partnered with local law enforcement for "Operation Cross Country." The primary goal was to rescue young victims from domestic sex trafficking.

A nationwide operation to rescue children from prostitution found Bay Area child prostitutes concentrated in one area. Five of six juveniles who were picked up were selling their bodies on the streets of Oakland and Hayward.

"Unfortunately the six-figure is probably part of a much larger number of child victims in the Bay Area," said FBI special agent Doug Cook.

The majority of prostitutes were rounded up along International Boulevard in Oakland.

"I know girls that started when they were 13, 14, 15," said former prostitute counselor Erica Carter who counseled young prostitutes who were preyed on by pimps targeting girls from broken homes. "They buy them from their mothers who are on drugs. There are all kinds of things that happen to these little girls that get lost in the system."

Carter says the pimps commonly use manipulation or force.

"You know, 'I'll love you, I'll take care of you, I'll be there fore you, I'm not going to leave you, but you have to do these things.' Or they're beating them, they're drugging them, they're locking them in their rooms and forcing them to sit there. They're starving these girls," said Carter.

The FBI says many children tend to meet their pimps on social networking sites.

"There are grown women that aren't able to stand up to grown men to get them to do things. So a child does not stand a chance," says Carter.

Along with the six juvenile prostitutes, the FBI and local police picked up 57 adult prostitutes, seven pimps and eight Johns. But FBI officials believe it's just a small snapshot of a much larger and growing problem.


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