A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operation targeting commercial child sex trafficking led to the arrest of three pimps and the rescue of three adult victims and one juvenile victim Friday in the city of Yuma.

During the sting, the FBI was aided by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security Investigations – Yuma, and the Yuma Police Department.

The arrests in Yuma were part of the FBI's multi-day, nationwide "Operation Cross Country (OCC) VIII," which included stings in various cities throughout Arizona that led to the recovery of 5 children and 52 adults statewide who were being victimized through prostitution. Victim services were offered to all the children and adults recovered.

Additionally, 28 pimps and 40 Johns were arrested on state and federal charges.

The 5 children may have been "runaways, or maybe they were kidnapped off the street, but at the end of the day they are children and they are forced into this commercial sex trade," Special Agent Perryn T. Collier, FBI Arizona Office media coordinator, told the Yuma Sun. "Our focus is on rescuing these juvenile victims that are being exploited."

And while OCC VIII focused on the recovery of juvenile victims, "the FBI and our law enforcement partners utilized this enforcement action to also contact adult victims of commercial sex trafficking and offer victim services to them," said Douglas G. Price, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI Phoenix Office.

"We utilized this initiative to target johns and pimps in a concerted effort to reduce demand and arrest/prosecute those responsible for exploiting women and children. The law enforcement community of Arizona will continue to work collaboratively to combat the crime of commercial sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children through prostitution. Women are not for sale in Arizona."

OCC is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative established in 2003 by the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to address the growing problem.

To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 3,560 children from being exploited. The investigations and subsequent 1,450 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 14 life terms. This year’s initiative resulted in the recovery of 168 children and the arrest of 281 pimps.

According to the FBI, task force operations began as local enforcement actions which targeted truck stops, casinos, street "tracks," and websites that advertise dating or escort services -- based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions. Initial arrests are often for violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation.

Information gleaned from those initially arrested "frequently uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states," FBI officials said. "FBI agents further developed this evidence in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section so that prosecutors can help bring federal charges in those cities where child prostitution occurs."

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OCC 8 stats:

Chandler –

• 1 juvenile rescued

• 16 adult victims rescued

• 8 pimps arrested

Glendale –

• 1 adult victim rescued

• 1 pimp arrested

• 24 johns arrested

Mesa –

• 1 juvenile rescued

• 5 adult victims rescued

• 2 pimps arrested

• 9 johns arrested

Phoenix –

• 1 juvenile rescued

• 11 adult victims rescued

• 7 pimps arrested

• 7 johns arrested

Scottsdale –

• 13 adult victims rescued

• 6 pimps arrested

Tucson –

• 1 juvenile rescued

Yuma –

• 1 juvenile rescued

• 3 adult victims rescued

• 3 pimps arrested

Unspecified locations –

• 3 adult victims rescued

• 1 pimp arrested

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