WASHINGTON – The FBI has rescued 48 suspected teenage prostitutes, some as young as 13 years old, in a nationwide sweep to remove kids from the illegal sex trade and punish their accused pimps.
Over a three-night initiative called Operation Cross Country, federal agents working with local law enforcement also arrested more than 571 suspects on a variety of federal and state prostitution-related charges, the bureau said.
The teenage prostitutes found in the investigation ranged in age from 13 to 17.
“We may not be able to return their innocence but we can remove them from this cycle of abuse and violence,” said FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Meanwhile, in Memphis, Tenn., a man pleaded guilty Monday to federal civil rights charges for sex trafficking in minors. Leonard Fox faces at least 10 years in prison after admitting that he arranged for underaged girls to engage in sex for money.
“To sexually prey upon young girls in this manner for financial gain is particularly damaging to the victims and an affront to the society in which we live,” said Loretta King, acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
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