The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in a nationwide undercover operation with the help of the Myrtle Beach Police Department (MBPD) has rescued over 84 children from a human-trafficking and paedophile racket.
Around 120 human traffickers were also arrested by the FBI in the crackdown that lasted from during October 12-15.
Among the rescued children is a three-month-old reportedly sold to an officer for $600.
An FBI spokeswoman said in a statement that the average age of the victims rescued from the racket was 15 years.
Three women have also been arrested on prostitution charges from a block of Coastal Grand Circle in Myrtle Beach. The three women have been identified by the MBPD as Tawanna Mickens (22) Devinee Kathryn Boyle (22) and Anjuma Inubia Nesanet (19).
Operation Cross Country XI
The FBI crackdown — codenamed Operation Cross Country XI — was conducted from October 12 to October 15 in 55 FBI field offices across the US, and involved over 70 FBI-led Child Exploitation Task Forces.
Extensive sting operations were carried out in hotels, casinos, truck stops, on internet websites and on street corners, in many major cities of the United States, including Raleigh, Fayetteville and Lumberton, the officials said.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said in an official statement on Wednesday: "We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation's children from harm."
He added: "This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."
Another special agent in charge of the Denver Division was quoted in the FBI release as saying: "The threat of child sex trafficking is something the FBI works on every single day. Operation Cross Country gives us the opportunity to shine a light on this threat and to educate the public. "
Infant and minors rescued
The FBI field office in Denver, Colorado, on October 13 traced two minor girls — one being a three-month-old and a five-year-old. Both are from the same family, according to the FBI.
A friend of the family to which the two minors belong reportedly tried to sell them to an undercover officer for sex for $600. The officer was one among the search teams of the FBI.
In another instance, an undercover agent was reportedly offered sex with a 16-year old by a 21-year-old woman for $200. Another adult female drove the duo to the agent. Both adult women have been arrested and booked under federal charges.
Meanwhile, the State Child Protective Services and the FBI's Victim Services Division are providing all the rescued children necessary medical aid, food, clothing and shelter.