Eight Florida children have been rescued from prostitution
rings following Operation Cross Country, a national FBI crackdown on the sex
trafficking trade in 100 cities.
Six of those children are from Tampa Bay. One is from the Orlando area and the other Fort Myers.
"These are not faraway kids in faraway lands," the Tampa Bay Times quoted FBI Director James Comey as saying. "These are America's children."
WFTV reports that 281 accused pimps were arrested in the national dragnet that spanned from Florida to California. It quoted an undercover officer as saying the youngest among the victims is about 13. Many of those recovered, the station said, have never been reported missing.
"These are our kids on our street corners, our truck stops, our motels, our casinos,” the television station quoted Comey as saying.
Human trafficking has become a big focus for many Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies in recent years. The Clearwater Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking was launched in 2006 and has since made well over 100 arrests. That task force has been instrumental in a number of high profile cases, including the manhunt for Eric Antwan Bell, who was accused of having “pimped” a 15-year-old girl and other teens from a home in Tampa. His case was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” in 2011.