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Super Bowl operation targets underage prostitution

February 4, 2014 7:58:48 AM PST
16 juveniles have been rescued from sex trafficking as part of an FBI crackdown during the Super Bowl.

The minors range in ages from 13 to 17 years old and include high school students and children who had been reported missing by their families.

More than 50 law enforcement agencies participated in the operation.

Authorities say more than 45 pimps and their associates were arrested, some of whom claimed to have traveled to New Jersey from other states specifically for the purpose of prostituting women and children at the Super Bowl.

"High-profile special events, which draw large crowds, have become lucrative opportunities for child prostitution criminal enterprises," said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. "The FBI and our partners remain committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and putting those who try to profit from this type of criminal activity behind bars."

International human trafficking victims were also recovered during the operation.

The FBI's victim specialists provided 70 women and children services such as food, clothing, and referrals to health care facilities, shelters, and other programs during the operation.

The efforts are part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to address the growing problem of child prostitution.

"Through partnerships, enhanced as a result of this operation, we hope to build a lasting framework that helps the community address this problem," said Michael Hipster, chief of the FBI's Violent Crimes Against Children Section. "It's easy to focus on this issue in light of a high-profile event, but the sad reality is, this is a problem we see every day in communities across the country."

To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 3,100 children. The investigations and subsequent 1,400 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 11 life terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.

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