FBI raids rescue 105 kids forced into prostitution - WFSB 3 Connecticut

FBI raids rescue 105 kids forced into prostitution

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WASHINGTON (WFSB/AP) -

Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it has rescued 105 children, including some from Connecticut, who were forced into prostitution in the United States.

Authorities also arrested 150 people it described as pimps and others in a series of raids in 76 American cities.

Of the 105 children rescued, five of them were in New Haven. In addition, one pimp was arrested in New Haven.

The campaign, known as "Operation Cross Country," was the largest of its type and conducted under the FBI's "Innocence Lost" initiative.

The victims were mostly girls between the ages of 13 and 17. The largest number of children rescued were in San Francisco, Detroit, Milwaukee, Denver and New Orleans.

Police in Berlin, West Hartford, Norwich and Milford went to local hotels where the suspected underaged prostitution took place.

The assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigative division, Ron Hosko, said that child prostitution remains what he called a "persistent threat" to children across America with more and more being forced into prostitution.

"All child victims were removed from dangerous environments and put in safe settings," Hosko said at a press conference Monday.

The FBI said the campaign has resulted in rescuing 2,700 children since 2003.

The risk for most of these children starts when they run away from home. The Justice Department believes nearly 450,000 run away each year and that one-third living on the streets are lured within 48 hours of leaving home.

In Connecticut, 160 children now in the care of the Department of Children and Families were victims of sex trafficking. All were runaways who were either living at home or in foster care.

Lawmakers unanimously supported legislation this year that toughens penalties on pimps and allows assets to be seized. It also penalizes johns who knowingly have sex with minors.

"I believe the state's new tougher forfeiture laws for sex traffickers will lead to the elimination of these disgusting and disturbing crimes from our state," said state Rep. Rosa C. Rebimbas, R-70, who championed that bill. "This is one business we can all agree should be eliminated from the state of Connecticut."

William Rivera works for DCF in helping children who are victims of trafficking and answered why Connecticut residents do not see this as a problem in the state. 

"Because most people look at this as something outside the U.S., an international problem and in fact domestic trafficking is escalating," Rivera said.

Pimps often get children addicted to drugs.

Once they are rescued, children are given treatment, but recovery is not always successful. Many children are emotionally damaged and run away again.

Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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