The FBI says the three-day nationwide raid focusing on underage victims of prostitution rescued 105 sexually exploited children and arrested 150 pimps and others.
And the sweep included Georgia.
In the joint operation, federal, state and local law enforcement conducted the sweep.
The sweeps targeted truck stops, roadside motels and even casinos.
Officials also say some minors were “groomed” from foster care and group homes which often makes them vulnerable.
View video from the 3-day sweep.
In Georgia, Atlanta and Augusta are among the 76 cities where Operation Cross Country took place.
“A total of 19 arrests were made between the metro Atlanta area and Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia,” says special agent Stephen Emmett from Atlanta’s FBI division.
Agent Emmet says in Atlanta eight adults were arrested on state sexual exploitation for pimping related charges.
Two juveniles were rescued.
In Augusta, nine individuals were arrested on prostitution charges and two arrests were made on exploitation and pimping charges.
Agent Emmett says many of the arrests came from internet activity.
“I think the big take away is that law enforcement has to be prepared to work these cases in suburban cities versus the red light districts of old because of the internet. You just don’t know where this type of activity is going to occur now because of the various webpages that cater to this activity.”
Authorities are constantly monitoring certain websites to try and stay on track with the criminals says agent Emmett.
The use of the internet in sex trafficking has become big business.
Still, Jennifer Swain, program manager for the Atlanta based anti-trafficking group Youth Spark, says the three-day sweep means authorities are making some progress.
“With a lot of the local and state efforts on the ground to combat this issue, it’s really powerful to have a national focus as well from the FBI and we really do applaud them for this weekend’s sweep.”
Swain is also praising authorities for ensuring that the juveniles rescued were immediately referred to social services and not treated as criminals.
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