Police Make Big Prostitution Sweep in Las Vegas Valley

Updated: Feb 24, 2009 11:08 AM PST

Three local girls were part of the nationwide prostitution sweep.

Three valley children have been rescued in a nationwide effort to save teens from child prostitution. In Las Vegas, 67 adults, including two pimps, were arrested in Operation Cross Country III.

Metro Police say the arrests are just the beginning of an ongoing crackdown.

From the classiest hotels on the Strip, to shadiest streets, working girls are on the prowl once the sun goes down. But the world’s oldest profession is also involving young women, and many not by choice.

“The primary focus of this operation is to identify and rescue children who have been forced into a life of prostitution,” said Metro Officer Bill Cassell.

Officer Cassell says Metro joined the FBI this weekend for Operation Cross Country III, putting a dent in the prostitution trade.

“The street tracks where the girls work — the massage parlors, the motels, the casinos. In this particular case, some of the internet sites were also utilized as part of this ongoing investigation,” said Cassell.

The FBI says the sting rescued three local juveniles from the streets. 67 adults, mostly prostitutes, were also arrested here.

“Prostitution is certainly not a victimless crime. The majority of the prostitutes in Las Vegas are also involved in other criminal activities — narcotics activities, trick rolls, straight robberies, assaults, batteries. There have been prostitution-related homicides, and on top of that, I don’t think anybody can look into the face of a 14 or 15-year-old child who has been forced into a life of prostitution and say that’s a victimless offense,” said Officer Cassell.

This weekend’s takedown revealed a disturbing problem; children caught up in a cycle of abuse and violence.

The feds rarely participate in anti-prostitution crackdowns, but the FBI says it is becoming more involved as it tries to save children caught up in an ugly business. Metro says it enforces these laws year-round.

Some of the 48 children caught in this national round-up were as young as 13-years-old. Most will eventually be placed in protective custody.

The charges for pimps will be more stiff than they would likely get in state criminal courts. Federal government prosecutors look to bring racketeering or conspiracy charges against the pimps. They could face decades behind bars.

Link to original with video on Las Vegas Now Channel 8

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