FBI authorities announced Monday that they rescued 105 young people and arrested 150 alleged pimps in 76 cities over the weekend, according to a report from the New York Times.
The operation was conducted by the FBI's Innocent Lost National Initiative, a joint effort with the Department of Justice to address the problem of child sex trafficking in America. The weekend raid was the largest in the 10-year history of the organization, according to an FBI press release.
The young people rescued, most of whom were girls, ranged in age from 13 to 17, according to the Times. They reported that the largest numbers of children were found in the San Francisco Bay and Detroit areas. Rescues and arrests were also made in Milwaukee, Denver and New Orleans.
“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere, and the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable."
The Times said the raids came after extensive monitoring of Backpage.com, a classified advertising website, which has become a "prominent online marketplace for sex for sale." According to the Times, Backpage.com is "very, very pleased" with the results of the raids.
It also reaffirmed its committment to fighting child sex trafficking, a policy outlined by the company's general counsel, Liz McDougall, in a 2012 piece for the Seattle Times. "A key to disrupting and eventually ending human trafficking via the World Wide Web is an online-service-provider that aggressively monitors for and traces potential trafficking cases, and promptly reports to and cooperates with law enforcement."