By NPR Staff
Monday, the FBI announced the success of a three-day, multicity child sex trafficking operation. The seventh and largest of its kind, the raid recovered 106 teenagers and arrested 152 pimps. Aged 13 to 17, almost all of the young people found were girls.
Operation Cross Country highlights an ongoing — and often hidden — problem in the U.S.: the trafficking of young people.
The trade itself is not new, but the digital age is changing the tactics used by both pimps and law enforcement.
Trolling The Internet
John Ryan is CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. His organization worked in partnership with the FBI on Operation Cross Country, collecting and analyzing information on missing and exploited children.
"Up until about five years ago, sex trafficking of both adults and children were occurring in traditional venues, like street corners and alleys, bus stops," he tells NPR's Jacki Lyden. "The Internet has changed all that, particularly through social media platforms."
Sifting through those online channels was critical to the recent operation. During the FBI raids, the organization's office functioned like a command center, analyzing data gathered from the Internet.