DENVER (CBS4/AP) – The FBI says law-enforcement officers in a region that includes Colorado and Wyoming have rescued nine children and arrested six pimps in a three-day, nationwide sweep aimed at curbing child sex trafficking and underage prostitution.
The FBI said Monday the children were among 105 recovered in 76 cities during the operation.
FBI spokesman Dave Joly of the agency’s Denver office says many if not all of the rescued children are girls. He says several agencies helped with the arrests.
Agents say some of the activity starts at truck stops, casinos and websites that advertise dating or escort services. Alex, a victim of child sex trafficking, was recovered by the FBI and helped to put her pimps behind bars. She was only 16 years old, living on the streets, when she became a child prostitute out of desperation.
“At first it was terrifying, and then it just became; you kind of just become numb to it,” Alex said. “Not like an alter ego, but just like a different person; you put on a whole different attitude, you just feel empty.”
Alex eventually contacted the FBI and helped to put her two pimps behind bars. Colorado nonprofit Labratory to Combat Human Trafficking says pimps often prey on children who are need of love.
“To be their boyfriend; someone who has run away from bad family situation, somebody who is living on the streets, somebody who is considered a throw-away youth,” Amanda Finger with Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking said.
To date, more than 2,700 children have been taken off the streets.
“We are trying to take this crime out of the shadows and put a spotlight on it,” Ron Hosko with the FBI said.
Victims are typically between the ages of 13 and 17 years old — both boys and girls.
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