- 07.31.13 03:31 PM EDT
The FBI announced the largest rescue mission of sex-trafficked children in the U.S. on Monday, which saved 105 young people and arrested 105 alleged pimps. The agency conducted a three-day sweep in 76 cities throughout the country after monitoring online marketplace websites. Operation Cross Country was part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative launched in 2003.
Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigation division, said almost all of the victims were young girls ages 13 to 17 with profiles ranging in race and economic background.
The San Francisco area was found to have one of the largest prostitution rings, which investigators discovered through ads listed on websites like Backpage.com.
"We are seeing it more and more, kids being put out on the street and being trafficked because of the internet," said Detective Angela Irizarry of the Hayward Police Department outside of San Francisco.
The general counsel for Backpage.com, Liz McDougall, defended the site for allowing the posts saying that the available nature of the ads helped lead rescuers to the victims.