WASHINGTON, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced Monday 105 children involved in sex trafficking and exploitation have been rescued in 76 cities across the United States over the weekend.
The FBI said at a press conference that the young victims rescued, almost all of them girls, are aged between 13 and 17. Some 150 alleged pimps were also arrested in the three-day nationwide raids.
Most of the children rescued in the weekend initiative were in the San Francisco Bay and Detroit areas, along with Milwaukee, Denver and New Orleans.
"Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America," said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigative division. "This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere and that the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable."
It was the FBI's largest action to date focusing on the recovery of sexually exploited children, according to NBC news.
The pimps preyed in particular on troubled children, including children from broken homes or with a history of abuse, low self-esteem and little social support, authorities said.
Forty-seven FBI divisions took part in the operations, along with more than 3,900 local, state and federal law enforcement officers and agents from 230 separate agencies.
The latest operation was part of the Innocence Lost Initiative, which has resulted in more than 2,700 children being recovered from trafficking and sexual exploitation since 2003.
The operations typically began by targeting truck stops, casinos and websites that advertise dating or escort services, the FBI said.
In their efforts to identify child victims, investigators seek any help they can get, in some cases from adult prostitutes, Hosko said.
The FBI has been attacking child prostitution in partnership with a private group for the past decade, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Estimates from the Justice Department show that nearly 450,000 children run away from home each year, and one-third of teens living on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.