Florida Minors Among Those Rescued in Nationwide Sex Sting

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

The FBI Announced this week that they had rescued 168 children from prostitution in a nationwide sex sting called “Operation Cross Country”.  They also announced the arrest of 281 people on prostitution and pimping charges.  It appears that there among the minors rescued include children involved in prostitution in Florida, with at least around a half dozen children were rescued in Tampa alone with others in Ft. Myers and Orlando.  Also in Florida were dozens of arrests of people from around the state on pimping and prostitution charges with at least 27 arrests in the Jacksonville area and other arrests in various cities throughout Florida.  The operation is an annual one by the FBI and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children that has been going on since 2008 and has rescued an estimated 3,600 children.

According to the FBI, many of the minors who were rescued were children from the U.S. rather than those from other countries.  It also appeared that many of the minors who were rescued in the operation were never even reported missing by their families or other loved ones.  As one agent stated “no one is reporting them missing.  Hence, no one is looking for them.  But for operations like this, these children would likely have never been found.”  

According to a press release by the FBI about this and similar operations, many of these children have difficult backgrounds before entering prostitution and part of the challenge in rescuing children like this is to find adequate services for them after they have been rescued from their pimps, whom they are usually totally dependent on.  The FBI says that many of these children are being sold online, at truck stops or on street corners.

One of the main problems in locating these victims was that many were not reported missing.  While this was caused mainly by parents and other family not reporting missing children, it also seems to be a problem with the laws dealing with social service agencies in many states.  For many of these states, social services does not have to report to police when a child goes missing.  Florida, however, is one of only two states that have a law on the books that requires that a missing child be reported by social services to the police.