12 children rescued in Bay Area segment of sex sweep

July 29, 2013 8:08:51 PM PDT
The FBI calls it the biggest operation of its kind -- 150 people arrested in 76 cities. There were more children rescued in the Bay Area during the three-day sweep than anywhere else in the nation. Operation Cross Country included dozens of local law enforcement agencies.

In all, the task force arrested 62 adults during the three-day sweep. They also rescued 12 children.

One 13-year-old girl was so scared, she began hyperventilating. An officer tried calming her down with breathing exercises and assuring her that she would be helped. We were told the girl ran away from a group home.

Patrick Mims is with an advocacy group that helps girls like her.

"Foster homes and group homes, and they're leaving these places as fast as they're sent to them," he said.

Another 15-year-old was also scared. She asked if she could call her mother.

A 17-year-old was the third juvenile officers rescued that night. She told them she was from Galt, a small town in Sacramento County.

In addition to the three juveniles, the task force arrested six female adults and two pimps at a hotel in Hayward Friday night. The FBI set up a command post in one room. One person monitored cameras set up in each of the rooms where police decoys waited for the prostitutes.

There were simultaneous operations in other hotels and on the streets of cities across the Bay Area.

Officers also contacted escort services through their ads on craigslist and MyRedBook, a site used by both prostitutes and johns. They set up appointments throughout the evening.

Once a woman set a price for a sex act, officers in another room would get the go-ahead to arrest her.

Prostitution is a lucrative business for the pimps.

David Johnson heads the FBI office in San Francisco.

"They may be running three to five girls at any one time, making about $500-$1,000 per girl per night and that's tax free," he said.

FBI agents say one man, who was arrested for pimping, actually lived in the hotel with his hooker and her 4-year-old child. Officers meticulously searched their room. They looked for drugs, weapons and other evidence.

Those arrested face possible state and federal charges related to human trafficking and prostitution.

The youngest juvenile rescued in the nationwide sweep was 9 years old.


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