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SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) -
Hundreds of FBI special agents partnered with thousands of local police officers, deputy sheriffs, state troopers, and other law enforcement personnel throughout the United States this past week, arresting those responsible for exploiting underage children through prostitution. The sixth iteration of Operation Cross Country, a three-day law enforcement action, led to the recovery of 79 children. Additionally, 104 pimps were arrested by local and state law enforcement on a variety of prostitution related charges.
Nearly 30 of those arrests were made in the Shreveport and Bossier City areas. The FBI worked with local law enforcement who had been monitoring these rings for months through different internet sites. According to the task force, the suspects would list times and locations of the alleged meetings. Of these arrests, 95 percent were people from out of town.
The accessibility to Interstate-20 from Dallas to Atlanta has been the main draw for prostitution in the Shreveport-Bossier area. The task force also said the casinos and hotels add to the attraction.
"Many times the children that are taken in, in these types of criminal activities, are children that are disaffected," said Kevin L. Perkins, acting executive assitant director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. "They are from broken homes. They may be on the streets themselves. They are looking for a meal and shelter and are looking for someone to take care of them. That's really the first approach that's made."
Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was created in 2003 by the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), to address the growing problem of domestic child sex trafficking in the United States.
"Once again, thanks to decade-long FBI leadership, it is clear that child prostitution and sex trafficking do not just occur somewhere else on the other side of the world. These insidious crimes are occurring in American cities and the victims are American kids," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
To date, the 47 Innocence Lost Task Forces and Working Groups have recovered more than 2,200 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 1,017 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including eight life terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.
Task force operations usually begin as local enforcement actions targeting such places as truck stops, casinos, street "tracks," and the Internet, based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions. Initial arrests are often violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested often uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further develop this information in partnership with U.S. Attorney's Offices and the U.S. Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and file federal charges where appropriate.
The Innocence Lost National Initiative brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from across the country to NCMEC, where the groups train together. In addition, the Department of Justice has reinforced the training by assigning prosecutors to help bring cases in those cities where child prostitution occurs.
The FBI thanks the more than 8,500 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers and agents representing 414 separate agencies who participated in Operation Cross Country and ongoing enforcement efforts.
The following list denotes FBI divisions-not necessarily actual cities-where juveniles were recovered and pimps arrested.
Click here to see video from several underage prostitution stings including Shreveport and Bossier City.