Video: Cops bust 99 pimps of child prostitutes

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    >>> it's hard to believe it's happening here in america, but 69 children were forced into prostitution and now saved during operation cross country five. the fbi and local law enforcement agencies have arrested more than 800 suspects in these sex slavery cases, including 99 pimps. the major bust took cooperation of hundreds of agencies across 40 cities. richard lui has a closer look at this devastating reality. it's absolutely unbelievable.

    >> you really said it best there, chris . we're talking about u.s. citizens and talking about kids in the united states . 69 were saved, which brings the number to 1,200 saved since 2003 . but, unfortunately, this is a small dent. experts estimating some 230,000 u.s. kids are at risk of being exploited as sex slaves in this country. if you took every kid in 400 public middle schools , that's how many kids we're talking about. okay, this is also big money . $32 billion worldwide for traffickers selling and trading humans into sex or labor slavery. that's the size of the market. on a microlevel to give you an idea. a pimp in d.c. with three girls could make over $500,000 a year in cash. the challenge for law enforcement is that some kids are moved every few weeks making it difficult for parents to try to track down their daughters or sons. when law enforcement shows up the house mother and the girls that are at the locations, not the ring leaders , the ones that do the trade and run the infrastructure. now, girls do come forward on their own, but they don't always get the support they need because they're seen as just as a prostitute. the girls psychologically start to see their capture who laz has repeatedly raped them. local ngos in recent years have raised millions to stop this market by raising demands. what experts tell me now is that as more safe houses and shelters are needed to get these kid sex slaves away and into nurturing environments. hopefully.

    >> thank you very much, richard. appreciate it.

    >>> kristen anderson for the national center of missing and exploited children and michelle sigona. michelle , let me start with with you. how do they get their hands on these little kids?

    >> at the national center we have 80% of our missing children cases are run aways, what we call endangered run aways. these are the kids at greatest risk. they're out on the street and they don't have resources and they don't have anyone to turn to in terms of guardians for food, shelter, anything. and these pimps, these offenders will prey on these children's needs for love and support. and bring them in and start to care and nurture for them, nurture them or make them feel that that's what they're doing.

    >> in this case some of these kids were 13 and younger. when we tend to think of run aways, we don't think of them that young. is that at all typical, kristen ?

    >> yes, actually, the average age of entry into the life of prostitution is 12 to 13 years old and it's not unusual to find children young eer than that.

    >> michelle , let's talk about this case in particular. these stories are just so terrible. little kids forced to have sex everywhere from random apartment complexes to a men's room in a shopping mall . what else can you tell us about what the fbi and all these local agencies found?

    >> well, the fbi , they started this task force in 2003 . it's the innocence lost initiative. they have 39 different task forces across the country, which really team up with a lot of the local agencies, chris . they go in and now although the task forces with the fbi , they're doing a great job and combatting this on a daily basis, they set up a lot of these operations. you know, a few times a year. in this particular case, this is what they did with these local agencies and they go in and figure out where the target problems are whether it's a motel, truck stop , casino, maybe a seedy motel and maybe it's on the internet and they figure that out and they go in and they rescue these children and then they pick up the pimps. a lot of charges are local, state charges and they see if they can and that's where the information comes from, which leads to the bigger take downs of operations which then results in even more arrests and even more take downs but the problem here, chris , is that once these girls are rescued, there really isn't a lot of resources for them. a lot of these are throw-away children. children that, they're beyond run aways. they're children that their parent don't want them and they don't have anywhere to go. there are not a lot of non-profits out there to help them.

    >> talk about the reentry for these kids. if they ran away, some problems in the home to begin with.

    >> well, that's right. they come from difficult circumstances in many cases, not in all cases. we do see some mid-income suburban kids that sometimes get lured into this maybe online. but, still, a lot of times these kids are staying in the prostitution life because it's better than at least, in their eyes, what they may have to return to.

    >> just to hear the phrase, throw away children is enough to make you sick. but it is good to see that they are putting some of these criminals where they belong and hopefully they'll be behind bars and not terrorize kids for a long time. kristen anderson, thank you for all the good work you do. michelle , always great to have you on. thank you so much.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/9/2010 10:47:15 AM ET 2010-11-09T15:47:15

More than five dozen child prostitutes have been found as part of a three-day nationwide crackdown on the sexual exploitation of children, the FBI said.

FBI spokesman Jason Pack said Monday that 69 children were removed from prostitution and 99 suspected pimps were arrested in 40 cities across 30 states and the District of Columbia. Authorities arrested 785 other adults on a variety state and local charges, Pack said.

All the children found were placed into protective custody or returned to their families.

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The children were found during Operation Cross Country V, a three-day roundup targeting child traffickers and pimps. The largest group of child prostitutes, 24, was found in and around Seattle, according to the FBI.

FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry said the children found ranged in age from 12 to 17. Authorities are working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to confirm their identities.

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The Everett-Seattle-Tacoma region had the largest number of children rescued for the third year in a row, The Seattle Times reported.

"Some of them are very young — 14, 15 years old," Steven Dean, assistant special-agent-in-charge of the FBI's field office in Seattle, told the newspaper.

Henry said child prostitutes are often recruited by loose knit groups that seek out kids who may be involved in drugs or runaways looking for a "responsible adult" to help them.

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"There are groups of people out there preying on naive kids who don't have a good sense of the way of the world," Henry said. "Sometimes there's a threat of force, threats of violence. A lot these kids operate out of a sense of fear."

Since 2003, when the FBI and the Justice Department launched the Innocence Lost National Initiative, about 1,250 child prostitutes have been located and removed from prostitution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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