29 alleged NJ prostitutes, pimps charged in FBI human trafficking bust
Authorities arrested 29 alleged prostitutes and pimps and rescued one minor in New Jersey during an international sting operation targeting underage human trafficking.
The arrests, which were part of Operation Cross Country X, involved 10 New Jersey towns in six counties, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Newark bureau. The sting was carried out by the FBI along with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and several law enforcement agencies.
According to an announcement made by special agent in charge Timothy Gallagher of the FBI's Newark Division, one 17-year-old was also rescued during the operation, which took place from Oct. 13 to 16. The initiative led to the rescue of 82 minors nationwide, and the arrest of 239 alleged traffickers and their associates, Gallagher said. The minors were "engaged with state protective services and victim assistance," the FBI said.
Newark FBI spokesman Mike Whitaker told South Brunswick Patch that there were five prostitutes and three pimps arrested in Somerset County. In addition, two alleged pimps were charged in Atlantic County and a total of 11 were charged in Atlantic City and Egg Harbor Township, Whitaker told the website.
The FBI has not yet released a full list of the names of the suspects arrested in New Jersey during the operation. This is the 10th iteration of Operation Cross Country and the FBI's largest to date. Since its inception, the program has led to more than 6,000 child identifications and locations, the FBI said.
According to Whitaker, the following law enforcement agencies in New Jersey took part in Operation Cross Country:
- Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office
- Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office
- New Jersey Human Services Police Department
- Egg Harbor Township Police Department
- Galloway Police Department
- Somers Point Police Department
- Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office
- Fairfield Police Department
- Essex Fells Police Department
- West Caldwell Police Department
- Caldwell Police Department
- New Jersey State Police
- Essex County Prosecutor’s Office
- New York/New Jersey Port Authority Police Department
- Irvington Police Department
- Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office
- Franklin Township Police Department
- New Brunswick Police Department
- Somerset County Prosecutors Office
- Middlesex County Prosecutors Office
“Sex trafficking of our children has no place in our society; the FBI, with our law enforcement partners, will continue to relentlessly pursue and bring to justice for their horrific crimes, those who prey on vulnerable children,” stated Gallagher said.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.