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25 Arrested in Western Pa., Northern West Virginia Child Sex Trafficking Investigation

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WHEELING, W.Va -

A nationwide effort targeting child sex trafficking resulted in the arrests of 25 people, including two alleged pimps and the rescue of three alleged victims.

The FBI announced Tuesday, Operation Cross Country IX covered Wheeling, Pittsburgh, Green Tree, Greensburg, and Erie.

“Initiatives like Operation Cross Country shine a much needed spotlight on criminals that prey on vulnerable young children,” said United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia William J. Ihlenfeld, II. “As law enforcement officers, our primary focus is on keeping communities safe. By working together, we can work to ensure that children are not treated as commodities for financial profit. I applaud this collaborative effort to rescue victims of human trafficking and to hold offenders accountable.”

The FBI has not release the suspects' names or where they were arrested.

"In June 2015 I had the opportunity to attend The White House Convening on Trafficking and Child Welfare, where "survivors" of human trafficking spoke of their experiences in the trafficking trade,” said Lt. Danny Swiger, Director, West Virginia State Police Crimes Against Children Unit. “There were two common themes presented by the survivors, they were sexually abused as children and they were runaways. This revelation has led us to increase our efforts and focus on addressing these two issues so that we may be able to prevent the children of West Virginia from becoming human trafficking victims."

Nationwide, more than 500 federal, state and local law enforcement organizations, conducted both “in-call” and “out-call” operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops and in other areas known to be visited by prostitutes, sex-traffickers, and their customers.

Nationally, 149 victims or potential victims were rescued; the youngest was 12.

Stick with 7News as more details become available. 

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