DENVER (CBS4)– The FBI is stepping up its crackdown of child sex trafficking and agents in Denver are getting national recognition for their work.
The FBI Denver Division ranked highest nationally by recovering 18 child prostitution victims in a week-long sting dubbed “Operation Cross Country.” Additionally 11 pimps were arrested on state and federal charges.
FBI agents teamed up with local law enforcement from Casper, Wyo. to Pueblo to surf the internet and work undercover in their eighth such nationwide operation.
They track down sex traffickers peddling children who are increasingly using technology to lure young victims.
“These are not far away kids in far-away lands. These are our kids on our street corners, our truck stops, our motels, our casinos. These are America’s children,” said FBI National Director James Comey.
This past week’s operation included 106 cities including Denver. Police rescued 168 children and arrested 281 suspects on charges related to sexual exploitation of children.
“They use fear. They use force. They treat children as commodities of sex that can be sold over and over again,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell.
“They are utilizing technology and recruiting online via social networking sites,” said National Center for Missing and Exploited Children spokesman John Ryan. “And then they are selling these children via online classified ad sites such as Back Page.”
The children rescued in the past week’s stings will receive medical and psychological treatment before being placed in safe homes.
Throughout all eight operations the FBI said it has recovered nearly 3,600 children from lives of sexual exploitation.