Monday, Nov. 8, 2010 | 2:14 p.m.
A three-day nationwide crackdown on the sexual exploitation of children meant to highlight the problem led to the arrest of 51 adults in the Las Vegas area, FBI officials said.
Those 51 adults were arrested on local and state prostitution charges. Local officials also rescued one juvenile from prostitution involvement, arrested five people for attempting to solicit prostitution and arrested five more people involved in prostitution for other charges, said FBI Las Vegas special agent Joseph Dickey.
The arrests were part of Operation Cross Country V, a 72-hour national enforcement action with the Innocence Lost National Initiative, which included actions in 40 cities in 34 FBI divisions across the country, officials said.
The weekend operation led to the nationwide recovery of 69 child victims of prostitution and the arrest of 884 people, including 99 pimps, FBI officials said.
Operation Cross Country V was meant to draw awareness to the sexual exploitation of children by providing a three-day snapshot of the problem, Dickey said.
"This isn't anything we don't do on a daily basis," he said.
The FBI launched the Innocence Lost National Initiative in 2003, which includes 39 task forces across the country, to highlight the growing problem of child sex trafficking in the United States.
The Innocence Lost Task Force in Las Vegas works with the Metro Police Vice section to combat child prostitution, Dickey said. The FBI primarily supplies training and equipment for the officers, he said.
Since 2003, more than 1,000 children involved in prostitution have been rescued in the Las Vegas area, most of whom were between the ages of 14 to 17, Dickey said. Some children as young as 12 years old have been rescued, he said.
Las Vegas authorities rescued 155 children in 2009 and 99 children so far this year, Dickey said.
Those numbers, he said, aren't any better or worse than other similar-sized cities in the United States.
"In any populated area, unfortunately, you're going to have children involved in the prostitution business," Dickey said.
FBI officials said task force operations typically begin locally, targeting places such as truck stops, casinos, street "tracks" and websites based on intelligence gathered by investigators in each jurisdiction. Most people are initially arrested for state and local prostitution charges, and information from those arrests often leads to uncovering organized efforts to prostitute women and children in many states, officials said.