The FBI and dozens of law enforcement agencies rescued 16 juveniles in four states, including Connecticut, during an operation that targeted forced prostitution around the Super Bowl.
Officials said the children ranged in age from 13 to 17. They were found in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Some were high school students whose families reported them missing.
More than 50 women who were forced to work as prostitutes were also rescued, and more than 45 pimps were arrested.
Officials said that many of the pimps forced the women to travel from out of state to the area to work during the Super Bowl. State, local and federal officials have spent months trying to combat forced prostitution during the Super Bowl, an event they said draws potentially lucrative opportunities for sex traffickers.
Commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Children and Families, Joette Katz, released a statement Tuesday afternoon. She said, "I am very proud of so many of our staff who worked around the clock to respond to the victims of the sex trafficking that occurred this weekend. Social workers and managers all answered the call as needed during this operation that lasted long into the evening and extended into the early hours of the morning. "
DCF had just held a forum on domestic minor sex trafficking in Hartford last week. Katz reiterated the discussions that took place there, saying it's important the state child welfare agency continue to work closely with law enforcement, medical and other professionals to combat the exploitation of children.
Katz said, "In this instance, we were working in advance with the F.B.I., and are grateful that we were able to contribute to a coordinated and effective response."
This report includes information from The Associated Press.