'Operation Cross Country' cracks down on human trafficking

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
EMBED <>More Videos

The FBI and local law enforcement officials are cracking down on human trafficking in a sting called "Operation Cross Country." The stings are taking place in 106 cities, including the Bay Area. Officials rescued six children and arrested over a dozen pimps in the Bay Area on Monday.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- The FBI and local law enforcement officials cracked down on human trafficking in a sting called 'Operation Cross Country' on Monday. The stings are taking place in 106 cities and include arrests in the Bay Area.

Over 150 kids are now safe nationwide and some of the men forcing them into prostitution are under arrest.

The FBI calls it modern day slavery. The agency's director says these are America's children who go missing and are then exploited.

"Operation Cross Country" cracks down on human trafficking.

ABC7 News has been embedded with the FBI and local police at a raid in San Rafael. In the operation, prostitutes were taken into custody and were offered help by advocates. There were also arrests of Johns who were booked into jail. While ABC7 News was at the scene, one pimp ran off without capture.

You hear a lot about prostitution and trafficking in Oakland and other big cities, but rarely do you hear about it in the affluent suburb of Marin County.

Some of them said they do it because it's easy money.

One woman ABC7 News spoke with who wanted to remain anonymous said we could call her "Shawna." She says she can make $100 and more per client. She is 29 years old and has a daughter.

Shawna said she has been selling her body since she was 17. She says she was pimped by a man who knew her stepsister. "He kinda like wheeled me into it," she said.

She said she was kind of tricked into it. "I was scared and I was stuck with him for six months."

Shawna is one of 11 women who were taken into custody Friday night in San Rafael. One was eight months pregnant and all were interviewed by police and advocates from support groups. If they had no outstanding violations, the women were given options other than jail.

"Operation Cross Country" cracks down on human trafficking in San Rafael.

"They'll be able to get resources and get help in getting them off the street or perhaps change their lifestyle," San Rafael Police Capt. Justin Graham said.

But 'Operation Cross Country' also took to the streets in cities like Oakland. Officials used male decoys that looked for young street walkers who may have been trafficked.

The FBI says the 3-day operation that took place in the Bay Area was successful.

"They rescued six children. The youngest victim was 15 years old and they also arrested 13 pimps," said John Lightfoot, an FBI special agent in charge.

Police and FBI have been conducting the operations in motels. They contacted ads in MyRedBook, an Internet site that is used by hookers and Johns. The appointments were set and the girls came over to the rooms, where there were police and FBI waiting.

All of the men who were arrested seemed embarrassed, some cried and one John even soiled his pants.