The FBI has freed two teenagers being forced to work as prostitutes as part of a crackdown on sex trafficking.
The FBI announced on Monday the results of Operation Cross Country VIII. The FBI, state and federal officials focused on underage prostitution in the Kansas City area, Topeka, Manhattan, Wichita, Springfield and Columbia.
The two girls freed are 16 and 17 years old, according to authorities. The two were in Wichita and Kansas City, MO.
Seven pimps were arrested on state and federal charges, and 28 prostitutes were arrested, according to authorities.
The operation occurred over three days, but it took weeks of planning to coordinate.
Across the country, 54 FBI field offices and 392 agencies participated in the crackdown, which freed 168 child victims and led to the arrest of 281 pimps.
"The exploitation of a child being sold for sex is an abhorrent crime, which preys on the innocent. The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate this threat to children across the nation," Special Agent in Charge Michael Kaste said. "Those individuals responsible for this victimization will be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The girls who were freed will be provided counseling and reunited with their families.
"It's particularly heinous when you're victimizing a 12, 13 or 14-year-old person and what this says is that we're not going to go away," Kaste said.
The FBI said some of the victims were turned into sex slaves through online ads or even their friends.
"They're probably hanging around with the wrong people and get talked into this life. It just runs all over the place," Kaste said.
He said parents must be vigilant and engaged with their children.
"Talk to your children. Know what they're doing, where they're going," he said. "They should know who their friends are and they absolutely should know everybody that they talk to online."
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:00:37 GMT
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