The Largest Prostitution Crackdown in Recent History
Recent FBI interventions are shedding new light on prostitution in America. This illicit activity remains covert, but more and more minors are now getting a second chance at a normal life. The most recent FBI crackdown, “Operation Cross Country,” resulted in the rescue of 105 children between the age of 13 and 17, and 150 total arrests. Law enforcement officers went undercover in a three-day sting operation. By tracking websites like backpage.com, the FBI got leads on the most common meeting places for pimps and their victims.
Common Places for Sex Trafficking
After identifying the websites used by sex traffickers, law enforcement found that one of the most shocking meeting places for prostitutes and their johns are athletic events like the Super Bowl and the Final Four. People gather from across the country to seek out cheap entertainment, and the demand rises for prostitution. According to the FBI, Las Vegas remains one of the most prostitution-laden city in the United States due to its highly sexualized reputation and large amount of visitors. Authorities arrested 41 prostitutes and one pimp in Las Vegas alone, during Operation Cross Country. The police recovered 12 child prostitutes in the San Francisco-Oakland region, ten in Detroit, and three in Oklahoma City. Young girls as young as 13 were found among the minors, and their stories are as crushing as the life path they were forced into.
How Young People Become Sex Trafficking Victims
According to police reports, the most common ways pimps find their victims and force them into prostitution is by seeking out foster care, group homes, or homeless youth. The young girls, lured by the promise of quick money, are captured, brutally beaten, and threatened until they develop the mentality and belief that they will never be able to escape their pimps. Many of the captured young women were also girls who ran away from home, and soon found that they had no way to provide for themselves. According to the Justice Department, ” nearly 450,000 children run away from home each year and that one-third of teens living on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.” Most cases of child prostitution were found on the West Coast, but Massachusetts law maintains its severity for crimes against children.
Legal Treatment of Child Prostitution
According to Massachusetts State law, “whoever induces a minor to become a prostitute, or who knowingly aids and assists in such inducement, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five, nor less than three years, and by a fine of five thousand dollars.” Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 272, § 4A (West) Here, the law punishes pimps who force or help minors to become prostitutes. Further, the statute also punishes those who help young women or men become prostitutes. While the law seems to be too forgiving in terms of time in state prison, it is important to note that they do not only get charged with inducing a minor to become a prostitute, but also with the subsequent acts like assault, sexual assault, battery, and even stealing the victims’ earnings. Lawmakers are currently working to strengthen state law enforcement in order to identify pimps and their victims before they begin the cycle of violence and abuse. Further, a strengthened foster care and child welfare system would offer more resources to victims of child sex trafficking and even educate them about other options after leaving home. In the fight against child prostitution, only a concerted effort can prevent young women and men from experiencing the emotional and physical damage brought on by sex trafficking.