Six juveniles — two in Baton Rouge and four in New Orleans — were rescued and more than 70 people were arrested in Louisiana during a recent FBI sting targeting children for prostitution with East Baton Rouge Parish authorities using two websites in the operation.
“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere, and the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable.”
Operation Cross Country VII, a three-day action to combat commercial child sex trafficking, resulted in 105 children being recovered and 150 “pimps” arrested across the United States. Since 2003, Operation Cross Country, part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative, has resulted in rescues of 2,700 children.
According to affidavits of probable cause for the suspects, all but one were found using the websites backpage.com and cityvibe.com. Undercover agents would arrange to meet the people and negotiate a price in exchange for sex or other services.
Law enforcement officials have used the websites to set up prostitution stings.
“It does assist in that regard,” East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday. “It is a way that we have identified people in this sting and it is a tool that we use and will continue to use.”
Moore said he is especially happy to see the children who were lured to prostitution taken off the street. “The penalties they pay in the long run can never match that money” that they think they can make in prostitution, he said.
FBI agents worked with police, sheriff’s offices and the Louisiana State Police in addition to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to conduct the operation.
During the sting operation, 19 adults — 16 prostitutes, 2 “johns” and one pimp — were arrested and booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, according to FBI records.
Two women —Shonte Sifford, 21, no address given, of Houston; and Brittany Henley, 24, no address given, of Baton Rouge — were issued misdemeanor summons as part of the operation, but FBI records do not show the reasons for their summonses.
The two juveniles arrested in Baton Rouge, both 17 years old, were from Baton Rouge and Lubbock, Texas. In New Orleans, 17 adults were arrested, according to the FBI.
The following people were arrested on counts of prostitution or promoting prostitution in Baton Rouge as part of the nationwide, multi-agency operation:
FBI officials did not provided the names of the johns who were arrested in Baton Rouge.
In addition to New Orleans and Baton Rouge, stings were held in Alexandria, Shreveport and Lake Charles, Denver, Detroit, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Oklahoma City, Okla., Detroit, Atlanta and Jackson, Miss.
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