October 15, 2015
The FBI's Philadelphia field office recovered two underage sex trafficking victims and two pimps as part of a national operation spearheaded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Nationally, the FBI recovered 149 child victims and 153 pimps as part of Operation Cross Country IX, an annual initiative targeting the commercial sex trafficking of children.
Locally, the FBI worked alongside the Philadelphia Police Department's Special Victims Unit and Vice Unit, Upper Merion Township police, Tinicum Township police, Bensalem police and the Pennsylvania State Police.
The two Philadelphia-area victims — both females — were ages 16 and 17. Further details were not released.
RELATED ARTICLE: On Camden streets, trying to sell prostitutes on a new life
"The commercial sex trafficking of children is a horrendous crime which causes unimaginable damage to its victims," Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. "Working alongside our federal, state and local partners, the FBI will continue to aggressively investigate and stop those who prey on our society's most vulnerable, and ensure the perpetrators are held accountable for their actions."
As part of Operation Cross Country IX, more than 500 law enforcement officials conducted both "in-call" and "out-call" operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops and other known areas frequented by prostitutes, sex traffickers and their customers.
The overwhelming majority of the 149 victims recovered were females. Three victims were male and another three were transgender. The youngest victim was 12 years old.
A total of 105 victims received on-scene, direct services from victim specialists providing crisis intervention, medical attention, food, clothing and shelter.
Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI's Innocence Lost initiative, which has recovered more than 4,800 children from underage prostitution since it launched in 2003. Prosecutors have obtained more than 2,000 convictions.