BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - According to the FBI, two female juveniles were found in Baton Rouge during Thursday's underage prostitution sting called Operation Cross Country. The operation was a 72-hour nationwide FBI sting that recovered 105 juveniles and captured 150 accused pimps.
Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was created in 2003 by the FBI in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), to address the growing problem of domestic child sex trafficking in the United States.
The sweep took place in 76 cities and was carried out by the FBI in partnership with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, and the NCMEC. It is the seventh and largest such enforcement action to date.
The youngest juvenile recovered during the nationwide operation was 13-years-old.
During the Baton Rouge sting, 21 accused johns and adult prostitutes were arrested along with an accused pimp. The FBI did not indicate what part of Baton Rouge the two females were found in.
Hope House in South Louisiana will be a place where sex trafficking victims can go to relax and relearn life. Chuck Robb, the director, says the results of the FBI sting proves the reality of what is going on in the state. He says that is especially true when you consider there are 200,000 homeless minors in Louisiana.
"30% of minors in homeless shelters will be sexually exploited," Robb said. He says pimps and madams form connections with these children by offering them food and shelter, but then demand repayment. "Degrading them as a human being, they become a commodity."
Hope House has room for 14 victims. Robb says the girls will stay for one to two years.
"Give them hope, dignity and bring them back to a childhood that's been robbed from them," he said.
According to the FBI, the New Orleans Region ranks fifth in the nation for the number of juveniles recovered. The New Orleans region includes Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Lake Charles and Shreveport.
Four juveniles were recovered in New Orleans. One accused pimp and 17 accused johns and adult prostitutes were arrested during that recovery.
There were arrests in Shreveport, Alexandria and Lake Charles, but no juveniles were recovered.
For more information on human sex trafficking, visit Trafficking Hope: http://www.traffickinghope.org/