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FBI rescues 152 trafficked children in nationwide sting operation

A nationwide sting operation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrests of 153 pimps and the rescue of 152 underage children who were being sexually exploited, officials announced on Tuesday.

The initiative, dubbed Operation Cross Country IX, involved more than 500 law enforcement officials across 135 cities in the United States. During the week-long operation, which ended on Sunday, officers from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies conducted both “in-call” and “out-call” operations at hotels, casinos, truck stops and at other locations known to be frequented by prostitutes.

The FBI’s Denver and Detroit field offices reported the largest numbers of child victims: 20 and 19, respectively. A total of 9 child victims were rescued in the jurisdiction of the FBI’s Las Vegas field office, plus another 9 in Milwaukee.

“Human trafficking is a monstrous and devastating crime that steals lives and degrades our nation,” said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “As a result of the FBI’s outstanding coordination and exemplary efforts alongside state and local partners during Operation Cross Country, more children will sleep safely tonight, and more wrongdoers will face the judgment of our criminal justice system.”

Lynch added: “The Department of Justice will continue to aggressively and persistently fight this heinous crime, and to hold its perpetrators accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

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