A massive FBI operation targeting pimps engaging in child sex trafficking rescued more than 100 children and led to the arrest of 150.
"Operation Cross-Country 7" took place over 72 hours and spanned 76 U.S. cities, starting Friday. The suspected pimps will face a range of state and federal charges.
Child sex trafficking is "one of the most prevalent, violent and unconscionable crimes in our country," said Ronald Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's criminal division, at a Monday press conference.
Most of the rescued victims, Hosko said, ranged from 13 to 16, but the youngest was just 9. Many were "children with a void" he said: either runaways or foster home children with whom pimps can encourage a relationship of dependency.
"This operation targeted venues where girls and adults are operated for commercial sex," such as street tracks, truck stops, casinos and hotels, he explained.
Every FBI field office, along with the assistance of 230 agencies nationwide, teamed up for the three-day sting.
The operation was part of the FBI's "Innocence Lost" initiative, which is says has resulted in the recovery of 2,700 children over the last decade.