CHARLOTTE – More than 500 people were arrested in a nationwide crackdown involving juvenile prostitution rings, including one person in Charlotte.
The FBI said they took nearly 50 children, some as young as 13 years old, during a weekend-long sweep called Operation Cross Country. But despite only making one arrest in the state, they say they came away with valuable information.
"We did make one arrest, seizures of money from a prostitution organization and intelligence was gleamed from that,” FBI Agent David Drew said. “And it may lead us to where we need to be."
FBI agents say ads over the Internet and in papers attract customers to a growing business of juvenile prostitution.
"The Internet is mainly where we see a lot of it," Drew said. "Craigslist is used quite a bit."
Drew is hoping for more arrests and more juveniles rescued from prostitution rings.
"The more people that we can have arrested and put away, convicted and put away to federal prison, it's just going to save some young girls' lives," said Mark Kadel, with North Carolina World Relief, a national organization that deals with human trafficking.
If any minors were forced into prostitution, the organization could step in to help.
"I think even if it's a runaway, people are coerced through fraud and lies," Kadel said.
The Charlotte case remains open as agents hope to make more arrests. There is a human trafficking forum scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in Concord.
There's also a video on the website that I got this from. It's really interesting, so you should check it out :)