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NORTH ALABAMA – The FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF) recovered a 17-year-old Alabama juvenile and other young adults being victimized through prostitution during Operation Cross Country VIII, which concluded Sunday.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr. said the FBI and local law enforcement partners were able to stop the victimization of one 17-year-old and 14 other adults engaging in prostitution, ranging in age from 19 to 34. Some of the adult victims had been forced into engaging in prostitution since they were juveniles, according to Schwein.

Three suspected pimps were arrested. The FBI was also able to identify four other pimps.

Operation Cross Country VIII is a national enforcement action that took place in 106 cities representing 68 CETF’s across America and is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative–an ongoing national initiative targeting the criminal enterprises responsible for the commercial sex trafficking of children.

Working together, the multi-agency CETFs and local law enforcement made contact with young women involved in prostitution through the use of undercover agents and detectives. All the women and girls were offered a variety of services within the community, such as housing, counseling, and medical assistance, and each were provided with bags containing necessary personal items through the FBI’s Victim Witness Assistance Program.

“Sex trafficking of children is one of the most violent and unconscionable crimes committed in this country,” said Schwein. “There are few law enforcement missions more important than protecting our nation’s children.”

The task force strives to reduce the vulnerability of children to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse and strengthens the capabilities of federal, state, and local law enforcement through training programs and investigative assistance, according to Schwein.

Anyone with information regarding possible sex trafficking activity should contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

The police departments from Birmingham, Huntsville, Vestavia Hills, Pelham, and Moody; the sheriff’s offices from Madison and Shelby County; and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation all participated in this operation.