Operation Cross Country rescues children caught up in sex trafficking, including those in Arizona

- It's called "Operation Cross Country", and it's part of program aimed at rescuing children that have been caught up in sex trafficking, including some in Arizona.

For four days in the past week, the FBI teamed up with dozens of local agencies around the country, and focused on sex trafficking in their cities. 120 traffickers were arrested across the country.

Operation Cross Country has been ran 10 times before.

"Our focus is to combat sex trafficking of children, with the primary focus of rescuing those children," said Michael Caputo with the FBI Phoenix Field Office.

Of the 84 minors who were recovered in Operation Cross Country, FBI officials said four of them were from Arizona. At a news conference held on Wednesday, a woman who knows first hand the trauma of sex trafficking spoke.

"Often what we see are 'Romeo Pimps,'" said Shanna Parker. "My pimp began as a Romeo Pimp. I thought we were building a future together. I thought we were doing everything for us. Didn't realize because I was a naive teenager, everything was for him."

Parker now runs an anti-trafficking agency called Angels Go To Work, and said Operation Cross Country is so important to rescue young trafficking victims, get them help, and raise awareness.

Part of the challenge is the social perception and assumptions that come with the girls caught in the grips of sex trafficking.

"Young juveniles and young women that are involved in prostitution, many of them do not enter it willingly," said Christi Decouifle, a detective with the Phoenix Police Department. "Think about the trauma and rape that is occurring on a day-to-day basis to them before we just judge and persecute them for being a prostitute."

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