Law enforcement officers rescued six children this week being forced to work as prostitutes in the Bay Area and arrested more than a dozen suspected pimps, FBI officials announced Monday.
The rescues and arrests came during a three-day nationwide prostitution sweep from last Thursday to Saturday as part of the annual Innocence Lost National Initiative coordinated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"The FBI and its partners are committed to abolishing this form of modern day slavery and we hope the public will help us in this endeavor," FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson said.
"This is undoubtedly an issue we should all be talking about and the Bay Area law enforcement community is committed to effectively address this heinous crime," Johnson said.
Fourteen separate operations were conducted across all Bay Area counties during the three-day sweep, according to the FBI.
In addition to rescuing the three juveniles working as prostitutes in the Bay Area, officers from numerous Bay Area law enforcement agencies arrested 13 people on suspicion of pimping and 54 "johns" soliciting prostitutes, FBI officials said.
Nearly 60 adult prostitutes were also arrested, according to the FBI.
The six juveniles rescued during the operation were found in Oakland, San Francisco, South San Francisco, Santa Clara, and in undisclosed locations in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
Since the Innocence Lost initiative began 11 years ago, the FBI and its law enforcement partners have saved more than 3,400 children from sexual exploitation and arrested some 1,450 suspects who were later convicted, according to the agency.
Johnson said the children rescued during the sting are being connected with victim advocates and nonprofits focused on helping exploited children.