Saturday, June 28, 2008

FBI Operation Targets Child Prostitution

By Michael King


ATLANTA - Atlanta was one of 16 cities targeted in a federal child prostitution sting. The FBI's newly formed Crimes Against Children Task Force in Atlanta made fire arrests as part of Operation Cross Country.

In 2001, the trial of three alleged pimps brought to light a problem that had plagued cities around the country for years -- trafficking of children for prostitution. It involved a young girl who had been carted from Atlanta to Las Vegas for sex.

Ever since that case, Alesia Adams has been crusading against the problem -- now working for The Salvation Army as coordinator against human and sexual trafficking. "Finally, public awareness around this issue is coming out and law enforcement is deciding that they're not going to have this anymore," Adams said.

She's referring to an announcement in Washington on Wednesday detailing results of a 16-city child prostitution sting called Operation Cross Country.

"There were a number of goals in this sweep, the most prominent is to identify those individuals who are juveniles and take them out of the cycle of victimization," said FBI Director Robert Mueller.

"The community certainly has changed its attitude in looking at these juveniles as more a victim than criminals as it relates to child prostitution," said Stephen Emmett of FBI Atlanta. The Atlanta FBI office now has a Crimes Against Children Task Force targeting the issue.

Adams says we need more safe places for children to go when they run away from abusive homes. "And they hit these streets and within 48 hours of that child hitting the street, the predators are there and they know where to find these children," she said.

Five arrests were made in Atlanta as part of Operation Cross Country. The operation lasted five days and led to the recovery of 21 children.

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