WASHINGTON — Declaring child prostitution a "persistent threat" in America, the FBI said Monday that authorities had rescued 105 young people and arrested 150 alleged pimps in a three-day sweep in 76 cities.
More than a dozen state, local and federal agencies in the Vancouver-Portland area searched for individuals profiting from the sexual exploitation of children under Operation Cross Country last week.
The FBI credits these local agencies for participating in the operation:
• Clark County Juvenile Detention Center.
• Vancouver Police Department.
Authorities, working with the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force, conducted the operation Friday and Saturday and recovered three children, including a baby, in the Vancouver-Portland area. Thirteen adults, likely to face prostitution charges, along with four pimps and a suspected fifth were also arrested.
Farther north, three children were recovered and nine adults arrested by authorities in the Seattle-Tacoma-Everett area through the nationally coordinated operation.
Each child was provided with counseling, mental health services, medical assistance, housing and advocacy resources by law enforcement and social service providers, according to a news release from the FBI's Portland division.
The young people in the roundup, almost all of them girls, ranged in age from 13 to 17.
The largest numbers of children rescued in the operation were in San Francisco, Detroit, Milwaukee, Denver and New Orleans.
The operation was conducted under the FBI's decade-long Innocence Lost National Initiative. The latest rescues and arrests were the largest such enforcement action to date.
The FBI said the campaign has resulted in rescuing 2,700 children since 2003. The investigations and convictions of 1,350 individuals have led to life imprisonment for 10 pimps and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.
Locally, several law enforcement departments and social service agencies came together for the operation, many of whom work day in and day out on the issue of child exploitation, said Beth Anne Steele of the FBI's Portland public affairs division.
It is important for the community to become educated, talk with kids and offer guidance, she said.
"It's everywhere," she said. "It is happening here at home."
If you suspect a child is being sexually exploited call your nearest law enforcement agency or FBI office at 503-224-4181.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.