“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America,” Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division Ron Hosko said. “This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere and that the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable.”
Human traffickers and pimps prey on vulnerable youth who come from broken homes, single parent homes and on those who have low self esteem and a lack of a support system.
“Their family infrastructure has gone away,” Hoski said in a press conference. “There is no one to report them missing.”
According the the FBI, the majority of child prostitutes are runaways connected to the child welfare system and foster homes. Sixty percent of children found missing were in foster care or group homes before running away.
"With no way to survive on their own, they are lured into sex," President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children John Ryan said in a press conference. "They [pimps] sell them [children] at truck stops and they sell them on the streets in every city in America."
The issue of child sex trafficking is increasingly important for the American public to understand. Child sex trafficking is an under the radar crime that's difficult to see and hard to detect. Often times pimps will dress children to look like adults, making it even more difficult to determine if they are actually underage victims. As a result, more organized crime groups and individuals are getting involved in the business. Online sites like backpage.com are used to sell sex from minors while many pimps go directly into homes through the internet to reach young girls. Not to mention, pimping is glorified in American pop culture.
“We are trying to take this crime out of the shadows and put a spotlight on it," Hosko said.
The vast majority of child sex trafficking victims are young girls of all races and wealth rages. The average age of victims ranges between 13 and 16 years old. Pimps and predators entice young girls with compliments, nurturing and money, which quickly turns into a cycle of sexual abuse, physical abuse, drugs, torture and no way out.
"[The FBI is] bringing to justice those who violently manipulate children and sell them for sex,” Ryan said.
Since 2003, 2700 children have been recovered from the illegal sex trafficking industry.