The North County Prostitution/Human Trafficking Task Force participated in a national crackdown on underage prostitution that rescued two minors from sex slavery and arrested seven suspected pimps in the San Diego area, authorities announced Monday.
The three-day, multi-agency operation, dubbed “Operation Cross Country,” targeted an underworld that poses a “major threat to children across America,” according to Kevin Perkins, acting executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch.
“It is a violent and deplorable crime, and we are working with our partners to disrupt and put behind bars individuals and members of criminal enterprises who would sexually exploit children,” Perkins said.
Nationwide, 79 juveniles were rescued and 104 people were jailed on suspicion of pimping last week, according to the FBI.
About 2,200 children have been located to date and taken off the streets by 47 Innocence Lost Task Forces and Working Groups. The investigations have led to 1,017 convictions, eight life prison terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets, authorities said.
More than 8,500 local, state and federal law enforcement officers representing 414 agencies participated in the latest mounting of “Operation Cross Country,” which had been conducted five prior times.
The San Diego Innocent Lost Task Force coordinated the local efforts. The multi-agency task force consists of detectives, officers and agents from the San Diego Police Department, Oceanside Police Department, county Sheriff’s Department, Escondido Police Department and the FBI. Its cases are prosecuted by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Also involved in the operation were the San Diego Harbor Police Department, Chula Vista Police Department, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations.
-City News Service