OAKLAND -- Six teens forced to work as prostitutes were rescued, and dozens of suspected johns and pimps were arrested over the weekend as part of a nationwide sting targeting child-sex trafficking, authorities announced Monday.
Officers fanned out in every corner of the Bay Area for 14 operations, arresting 54 johns, 13 pimps and 57 adult prostitutes and rescuing six minors forced into prostitution -- one as young as 15 -- as part of Operation Cross Country, now in its eighth year.
Child prostitutes were taken off the streets in Oakland, Santa Clara, San Francisco, South San Francisco and Contra Costa County, authorities said.
"These may just be numbers or statistics, but we remember that behind each one of those numbers, each one of those statistics is a person and a life," said FBI Special Agent in Charge John Lightfoot.
Nationally, 168 children were rescued and 281 pimps arrested, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Twenty prostitutes were arrested along International Boulevard in East Oakland and San Pablo Avenue in West Oakland, both hot spots for prostitution. A 16-year-old girl from Texas, who was exploited by a boyfriend, was among the 20, said Lt. Kevin Wiley.
All of the women and girls were offered services to help them get off the streets, Wiley said.
Sex trafficking is a growing criminal enterprise, said Oakland police Chief Sean Whent. "When you think of human trafficking, you think of something that occurs elsewhere in the world, but in reality it exists alive and well in cities across this country, including the city of Oakland."
Marin County law enforcement agents arrested 22 johns and nine prostitutes. In the Contra Costa cities of Concord and Pittsburg, two pimps, and six adult prostitutes were arrested, officials said. And in San Jose, 16 adult prostitutes and four johns were arrested.
Names of those arrested were not released.
The arrests were announced at a news conference at the former National Lodge, a hotel on International Boulevard in East Oakland that was once a major hub for prostitution. A judge ordered the hotel to close in 2012 after residents and the Oakland City Attorney's Office provided evidence that the hotel fostered prostitution and relied on the revenue it generated.
The hotel has since been sold and is slated to become a strip mall.
David DeBolt covers breaking news. Contact him at 510-262-2728. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.