FBI announces arrests from major human trafficking raids

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of young victims of human trafficking are safe following a nationwide operation by the FBI and local police. The sweep also landed scores of pimps and johns in jail.

Nationwide during the weeklong operation 149 underage trafficking victims were rescued and 153 pimps were arrested.

Operation Cross Country, now in its ninth year, was meant to be a message to those involved in human trafficking.

"We're going to identify you, you're going to be arrested, and we're going to prosecute them," said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley.

"In the Bay Area, six underage victims were rescued and seven pimps were arrested as part of this takedown," said San Francisco Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.

And 53 johns were also arrested .

"More than any previous year as the FBI is able to prosecute johns under the new law passed under the human traffic law," said Johnson.

The youngest trafficking victim rescued was 12 years old.

When ABC7 News was embedded with the operation two years ago, we met a 13-year-old who was so scared that she began hyperventilating. Police said she ran away from a group home before meeting her pimp.

One 15-year-old was so scared she began crying, asking if she could call her mother. And a 17-year-old was the third juvenile officer rescued the night we were there.

Just like past years, the stings took place on International Boulevard in Oakland, a popular street where johns pick up hookers. They also took place online where police decoys met johns and hookers.

The arrests took place in motels. FBI and police waited for them to show up at appointed times. When they did, they were arrested.

Pimps, some of whom lived in the hotels, were also arrested.

This year, Operation Cross Country took place in 135 cities.

Last year more than 3,500 sex trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

For full details on Operation Cross Country, click here.
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