Phoenix girls rescued in nationwide child prostitution sting

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A three-day cross-country undercover sting has resulted in 150 arrests and the rescue of 105 children involved in sex trafficking. Some of those arrested were taken off the streets of Phoenix. The FBI tells 3TV that 30 people were arrested in the Valley,  including several pimps. Two children from the Valley were rescued.

One local organization is addressing the problem by helping victims of sex trafficking. Streetlight USA, is currently housing 16 girls who are getting proper counseling, education and medical care. 

"We help them re-write their story so they have a better outlook, dream and goals," said Normal Salas, who works with the victims at Streetlight USA. 

The safe house has been operating since 2011. There are six cottages on campus. Salas said victims of sex trafficking have certain issues in common.  

"They come from abusive backgrounds, they have low self-esteem, and often haven't experienced a normal life," Salas said.

Mark Hoffman with the Phoenix branch of the FBI said the victims are brainwashed.

"They pull them away from home and then at that point they basically turn violent and children just can't escape from that," Hoffman said.

The latest nationwide prostitution bust included victims, all girls, ranging in age from 13 to 17. The campaign, known as Operation Cross Country, was the FBI's largest bust in the decade-old Innocence Lost initiative to fight child prostitution.