An Alexandria, Va., police officer monitors two hotel rooms as part of a national FBI sting to end child trafficking and prostitution.  
CBS News

A nationwide FBI sting rescued 149 sexually exploited children and arrested 150 pimps and others involved in prostitution of underage children. 

According to CBS News, the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children teamed up to form Operation Cross Country, which targeted 15 cities, including Atlanta; Cleveland; Denver; Knoxville, Tenn.; Alexandria, Va.; Jackson, Miss.; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Seattle.


CBS News notes that some 500 officers throughout the country participated in stings in high-traffic areas like casinos and hotels, which pimps and prostitutes are known to frequent.

"When kids are treated as a commodity in seedy hotels and on dark roadsides, we must rescue them from their nightmare and severely punish those responsible for that horror," FBI Director James Comey said in a statement.

CBS News notes that the youngest victim rescued was 12 years old.

"Runaway juveniles are particularly vulnerable to being led into prostitution because they run away from possibly a bad family situation and then get pulled into drugs or a lifestyle that leads to prostitution," Crystal Nosal, a spokeswoman for the Alexandria Police Department, said in a video posted on the FBI's Facebook page.


More than 100 FBI victim specialists were available to assist the rescued children after the stings, CBS New reports.

"Human trafficking is a monstrous and devastating crime that steals lives and degrades our nation," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement viewed by the news station. "As a result of the FBI's outstanding coordination and exemplary efforts alongside state and local partners during Operation Cross Country, more children will sleep safely tonight, and more wrongdoers will face the judgment of our criminal-justice system."


Read more at CBS News