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FBI rescues 168 exploited children during 'Operation Cross Country'

On Monday, the Huffington Post reported that a nationwide FBI initiative saved 168 children from human trafficking last week. The bureau also arrested nearly 300 pimps and charged them with state and federal crimes. So far, the FBI reports that “Operation Cross Country” has saved nearly 3,600 children in more than 100 cities this year.

FBI rescues 168 exploited children during 'Operation Cross Country.'
Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

FBI Director James Comey says they hate this particular work, but he stresses the importance of rescuing sexually abused children. The FBI reports that pimps prostitute children on street corners, truck stops and the Internet. The pimps also arrange the sexual meetings. In 2006, U.S. attorneys handled a major increase in child pornography cases since 1984 (82.8% increase).

John Ryan, CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), said that no one had reported many of these children as missing. Ryan also said that many children would remain missing without child trafficking stings. According to Ryan, only two states require agencies to report children missing from care.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website says the organization began in 1984, as a result of a murdered child named Adam Walsh. In 1981, a stranger in a shopping mall kidnapped and murdered 6-year-old Adam Walsh. Parents John and Reve Walsh soon learned there was not a coordinated process for reporting or finding missing children. The Walsh family established the Adam Walsh Outreach Center for Missing Children, which became a resource for families with missing children.

The action from the Walsh family tragedy resulted in former president Ronald Reagan signing off on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The group has helped law enforcement find nearly 200,000 children since 1984. According to their website, the agency has received more than 3,000,000 phone calls, and the agency’s success rate for finding a missing child is 97 percent.

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