The Justice Department has started focusing on trafficking in children for sex, and what it has found is shocking, says U.S. News & World Report. Thousands of young girls and boys are falling victim to violent pimps, who move them from state to state, which makes it a federal matter. The younger they are, the more they’re worth on the street. “There is a greater and greater demand for younger and younger kids,” says Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “America doesn’t look. People are shocked and horrified when they hear these girls’ stories. They say, ‘That doesn’t happen here. It happens in Thailand. Or the Philippines.’ But once you start shining a light on it, you find it everywhere.”
In the Innocence Lost initiative,. more than 40 FBI agents have been dedicated to task forces in the 14 cities with the highest incidence of child prostitution–places like Atlanta, Detroit, and Minneapolis. The feds have obtained almost 40 federal indictments of accused sex traffickers and pimps. In a few months, says David Johnson, director of the Crimes Against Children unit of the FBI, “there will be a round of cases that is bigger than anything that’s happened before. We are not looking just to do a quick arrest; we are trying to remove an entire enterprise.” The roots of Innocence Lost can be found in investigations begun in Oklahoma City in 2003, after a series of murders of prostitutes who worked at truck stops.