(WXYZ) - A major sweep that crosses state lines makes it way to metro Detroit – saving young women from sex trafficking.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies rescued more than 100 children and teenagers this weekend across the country during a dramatic undercover operation.
The sweep targeted 76 cities across the country, including Detroit area communities. FBI field offices in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington DC, as well as in a number of other major cities across the country also participated in raids in their communities.
In our area, the operation, known as Operation Cross Country VII, rescued 10 children and resulted in 59 arrests in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Genesee Counties. The FBI says Detroit ranked second of the 76 targeted cities for the successful recovery of juveniles.
Agents say they made arrests at suburban hotels throughout the area, including Southfield, Roseville, Romulus, Dearborn and others.
“They are all in safe custody. If there’s a stable family situation we can return them to, that’s the goal. Otherwise Child Protective Services will ensure they’re removed from somebody that can be endangering their lives,” said FBI Spokesman Simon Shaykhet.
Nationwide, the FBI says 150 pimps were arrested, 18 of those arrests were made in the Detroit area.
Police say the pimps who were arrested could face federal and state charges – including human trafficking crimes.
Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that the FBI's Criminal Investigation Division established in 2003. It is a partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It involves a partnership between the FBI and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the NCMEC.
To date, more than 2,700 children have been recovered and more than 1,350 people have been convicted as part of the initiative.
This is the 7 th national operation since 2003 to stop the growing trend of child prostitution.
“For any pimp or anyone else seeking to exploit young women, we are very serious about this type of enforcement. And we’re going to do these types of operations and make sure these pimps are arrested and brought to justice,” said Shaykhet.
Locally, the feds also seized about $60,000 and several vehicles as part of this massive undercover operation.
After they were taken into custody – most of them have now been re-united with family members.
SEMCAC is made up of the FBI, Michigan State Police, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, the Detroit Police Department, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s office, Southfield Police, Roseville Police, Highland Park Police, and Livonia Police.
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