A nationwide crackdown to get teens out of the sex trade took one underage girl in South Florida into safe custody and busted nearly 50 adults throughout Miami-Dade and Broward, authorities said Tuesday.
Called Operation Cross Country, the FBI, Department of Justice, local police and child advocate groups came together to conduct stings in 40 cities over the last 4 days.
Roughly 885 arrests of mostly adult prostitutes and some pimps were made, and 69 teenagers were taken into custody.
And those young women - girls - are the focus of this joint effort hoping to put a dent in the child prostitution underworld.
One former girl prostitute recalled how her pimp wanted "a girl that would make him a lot of money,” she said, according to the FBI. “So he sold me for a thousand dollars."
She’d been trapped in the juvenile sex trade and made it clear: There remains a tremendous need for more crackdowns and more resources to offer safe alternatives.
The government crackdown has happened several times since 2003. But this year, it resulted in more arrests and more “rescues” – as the FBI calls it - of young teenage girls. There were 99 female prostitutes under 18 years old who were arrested in the nationwide crackdown. Exactly how young is unclear because the FBI is not giving details or discussing the crackdown in-depth with reporters.
Much of the information comes from a press release, which does not allow for a back and forth exchange to clarify, challenge details and probe further.
Still, it was a massive sting, implies the statement.
Local police say undercover agents called the escort ads and asked for a young girl. When she showed up at a South Florida hotel, the arrest was made with the hope she'd tell authorities who she works for.