CHICAGO (STMW) – Three juveniles in the Chicago area were among 69 children across the country recovered by the FBI and local and state authorities over the past 72 hours in a national enforcement action to recover children who have been victimized through prostitution.

Operation Cross Country V was a three-day national enforcement action as part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative taken by the FBI, its local and state law enforcement partners, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a release from the FBI said.

The operation included enforcement actions in 40 cities across 34 FBI divisions around the country and led to the recovery of 69 children who were being victimized through prostitution. Additionally, nearly 884 others, including 99 pimps, were arrested on state and local charges, the release said.

Locally, the Chicago FBI located and recovered three juveniles who were engaged in illicit sexual activities, the Chicago FBI office said. Six adults were arrested on charges of solicitation and 39 adults were arrested on a variety of related state charges, according to the Chicago FBI.

The Chicago FBI was assisted by the Illinois State Police, the Chicago Police Department and officers from 23 county and suburban police departments. In all, more than 100 law enforcements officers participated in the three-day operation in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Task Force operations usually begin as local actions, targeting such places as truck stops, casinos, street “tracks,” and Internet websites, based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions, the FBI release said. Initial arrests are often violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested often uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further develop this information in partnership with U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and file federal charges where appropriate.

To date, the 39 Innocence Lost Task Forces and Working Groups have recovered more than 1,200 children from the streets, the release said. The investigations and subsequent 625 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including multiple 25-years-to-life sentences and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.

In the spring of 2003, the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice’s CEOS and NCMEC, formed the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address the growing problem of children forced into prostitution.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)