FBI Arrest 159, Rescue 105 Child Prostitutes in Largest Anti-Trafficking Operation

fbi-arrest-rob-lau-photography.jpg

Dario Macieira, Staff WriterLast Modified: 01:02 a.m. DST, 31 July 2013

FBI Bust Child Pornography Ring, Photo by Children's Embassy Megjashi WASHINGTON − In a three-day nation-wide sweep, members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in conjunction with other local, state, and federal officers, arrested 159 pimps and rescued 105 juvenile victims of forced prostitution. The action, named “Operation Cross Country VII”, has been the largest yet of the bureau’s Innocence Lost National Initiative. For comparison, a similar action in 2012 netted 104 arrests and 79 children rescued.

Ronald Hosko, who one year ago was promoted to the position of Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, spoke to reporters at the FBI headquarters in Washington. In addition to the arrests, the operation included “129 seizures of cash, drugs, firearms… estimated to have a value of $165,000.”

The prostitution sting, which was conducted in cities all across the nation from Miami to Seattle, focused on several different venues for prostitution, both physical and digital, including: truck stops, casinos, motels, internet sites, and social media platforms. Websites such as backpage.com offer easy avenues for the advertisement of sex with children, despite the website’s stated cooperation with police. Raw footage from the operation shows police consulting these websites, including advertisements for escorts around the ages of 20 and 21, who are in fact much younger.

The children that become victims of forced prostitution often come from broken homes and impoverished backgrounds, making them very vulnerable to a pimp’s promises of money or affection. Many pimps began as victims’ boyfriends. Others help girls gain illegal entrance to the United States. Offers and affection the pimps give are quickly used to emotionally control their victims, to isolate them and prevent them from escaping. Some girls do not even come to see themselves as victims, despite the physical and mental abuse they suffer.

Alexandria, as a sixteen year old living on the street, was recruited into prostitution by an abusive boyfriend. At the time she believed she had no other options, remembering, “I called everybody, I need help, I called my family, I called my friends, I called everybody I knew and nobody picked up.” It would take her two years to find the courage to contact the FBI.

Despite the success of recent operations, the number of victims rescued pales in comparison with the number of children at risk of forced prostitution. The National Center for Exploited and Missing Children estimates the number of children annually at risk to be close to 100,000. Many come from states’ foster care systems, and have weak or non-existent ties with their families. Arresting pimps and freeing their victims only treats the symptoms the wider disease. More must be done to help vulnerable children avoid falling victim to sex-trafficking.

Follow Dario on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @dariomacieira

Boston Terrorist Bombing Silences Martin Richard

boston-marathon-terrorist-bombing-victims-photo-boston-globe-via-getty-images.jpg

Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 12:49 p.m. DST, 17 April 2013

Martin Richard, 8-year-old victim of Boston Terrorist Bombing, Photo by Peter BostonBOSTON, Massachusetts - The FBI has determined that two bombs made from pressure cookers with nails, ball bearings, metal, exploded near the finish line during the Boston Marathon on Monday, 15 April 2013. The explosion left three people dead, one of which included an 8-year-old boy, and over 140 people injured. Authorities do not know who is responsible for the blast at this time, however, speculations suggest terrorist are responsible.

The two blasts sent the city of Boston into chaos. A third explosion was reported at JFK Library, however, the incidents were not tied together. According to the Huffington Post, the explosion occurred in Copley Square just before 3:00 PM. Commissioner Ed Davis reported there have been no arrests made or person of interest at this time.

The Associated Press reported the bombs went off at two separate time, and only seconds apart.  The streets were blood stained and people were frantic.  Although speculations suggest a terrorist attack, President Obama was careful to refrain from using the actual word “terror” or “terrorist.” According to the AP, the Pakistani Taliban denied having any parts in the bombing. The FBI are attempting to obtain all spectators videos, photos, and any audio from the event.

Two additional bombs were found near the end of the course and were disarmed once located.

The 8-year-old boy killed in the blast was identified as Martin Richard, the Boston Globe reported. The boy was attending the race in support of his father. Richard’s mother and younger sister were also in attendance, and were injured by the blast. CNN reported Richard’s mother had emergency surgery due to brain injuries, and his 6-year-old sister lost a leg.

Supporters of the victims from the Newtown shooting which occurred in December 2012 were in attendance and all were counted as safe. Authorities asked for people in the city to remain indoors and out of the streets. There was no prior knowledge of the attack, according to police officials.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe