Children who were being forced into prostitution have been rescued in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana.
"The operators of these criminal enterprises tend to play on self esteem issues and they try to entice with generosity and this false sense of caring among the girls," said John Selleck, Special Agent-in-Charge in the Criminal Division of the local FBI Office.
It was all part of the nationwide law enforcement crackdown dubbed Operation Cross Country. In Louisiana, three children were rescued and 16 pimps were taken into custody in the past week.
"We will respond and crush these pimps who would crush these children," said FBI Director James Comey.
"There was a variety of techniques used in this. We were anywhere from on the streets to different truck stops across the state as well as hotel venues across the state," stated Selleck at the New Orleans FBI Headquarters.
In Louisiana, simultaneous sweeps occurred in six cities - New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Alexandria, Shreveport and Monroe.
The FBI said Monday that one juvenile was rescued in New Orleans, another in Baton Rouge and one in Shreveport. Sixteen pimps were arrested in the state, as well as dozens of adult prostitutes.
"New Orleans being a special events town that this problem seems to travel with large special events, so we'll see a surge of individuals looking to exploit the customer base at those events by introducing these children into the market," said Selleck.
Selleck said the internet has made it easier for pimps to solicit kids, but he said the FBI will not stop going after men and women who exploit children.
"If you would choose to involve yourself in this endeavor, then you'd better live cautiously," said Selleck.
And there is a message for children who buy into the lies.
"This is fool's gold and it's tantamount to the slippery slope. Once you get involved, it seems to the juvenile at the time almost impossible to ever get out of it, but that's not true. There are services out there," he said.
Law enforcement also seized four vehicles, cash, cell phones, heroin, marijuana and other narcotics.
Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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