Jun 24, 2014 1:24 PM by azcentral.com
Local and national authorities descended on Arizona's truck stops, prostitution spots and casinos this past week, netting 27 pimps and 40 clients for state and federal charges, officials said.
The sweep additionally led to the recovery of five children and 52 adults, all of whom were victims of commercial sex trafficking, according to a statement released Monday by the FBI in Phoenix. The children were discovered in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Mesa and Chandler.
The statewide sting was part of the FBI's Operation Cross Country, a nationwide effort to remove minors from a life of prostitution while holding their exploiters criminally responsible.
Although the operation focuses on the recovery of juvenile victims, the FBI and its local partners capitalized on the enforcement action to contact adult victims and offer them services, said Douglas G. Price, special agent in charge of FBI Phoenix.
"We utilized this initiative to target johns and pimps in a concerted effort to reduce demand and arrest/prosecute those responsible for exploiting women and children," Price was quoted as saying in the statement.
The FBI operation was a collaborative effort with various Arizona agencies.
According to the FBI, the process began by local officers targeting known prostitution hot spots, including websites that offer dating or escort services.
The initial arrests are often based on alleged violations of local or state laws, but the information gathered from the suspects can unearth "organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states," according to the FBI statement.
To date, the ongoing national effort has recovered more than 3,560 children. The most recent installment resulted in the recovery of more than 160 children and the arrests of more than 280 suspected pimps.
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