An FBI sting operation rescued 19 teenage girls who were peddled as prostitutes in metro Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan, authorities announced.
Twelve pimp suspects also were arrested through the operation that was part of a national effort to combat sex trafficking involving children as young as 12 years old, according to a news release Tuesday from the FBI. Locally, the girls ranged in age from 13 to 17, according to an FBI agent involved in the investigation.
FBI spokeswoman Jill Washburn said the sting took place over the course of the last week.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael Glennon, who led the sting, said the pimp suspects, who were both male and female, mainly operated out of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
“From the FBI’s perspective, this is one of our highest priorities,” Glennon said. “This is a cause we are dedicated to.”
Glennon said the majority of the girls, some of whom were runaways, have been returned to their families. But some of the girls have since returned to the sex trade, even though the FBI had a victim specialist work with the girls.