Weekend crackdown on child sex trafficking recovers 100 missing and exploited children and results in 150 arrests of pimps and madams.
WASHINGTON — The FBI said Monday that it had recovered over 100 victims of child prostitution and arrested 150 pimps in a nationwide operation cracking down on underage sex trafficking.
At a Monday press conference, officials said that the weekend raids involved more than 12,000 law enforcement personnel from more than 450 state and local agencies in 76 cities and towns. The victims were girls as young as 13, many of whom had been lured from foster care or broken homes into lives of sexual abuse, torture and prostitution.
The trafficking involved selling underage girls for sex on online classified sites like Backpage.com, at highway truck stops and at sporting events including the NCAA basketball finals and the Super Bowl.
Seventeen pregnant teenage girls and 11 babies have been rescued from a house in Nigeria’s south-eastern Imo state, police have said.
They say they are looking for a woman suspected of planning to sell the babies.
“The girls claimed they were fed once a day and were not allowed to leave the home,” said spokeswoman Joy Elomoko.
It is not uncommon for such “baby factories” to be found in south-eastern Nigeria.
The rescued girls said they had all been made pregnant by a 23-year-old man, who has been arrested, reports the AFP news agency.
The European Union says Nigeria, along with China, is one of the biggest sources of people trafficked into Europe, where they are often forced into prostitution.
In 2011, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (Naptip), said their investigations showed that babies are sold for up to $6,400 (£4,200) each.
Poor, unmarried women face tough choices if they get pregnant in Nigeria, often facing exclusion from society, correspondents say.
Naptip says desperate teenagers with unplanned pregnancies are sometimes lured to clinics and then forced to turn over their babies.
The babies can be sold for illegal adoption, used for child labour or prostitution or sometimes killed with their body parts used for ritual purposes.