The FBI just wrapped up a nationwide child prostitution bust with ties to the Valley.
"We have over the past nine years prosecuted over 1,000 subjects of child sex trafficking. We've recovered over 200 child victims," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Mark Hoffman.
Hoffman said child prostitution is a problem that continues to grow.
"We know that as we work an investigation and we recover victims that there are others out there, and we're not going to stop," he said.
Hoffman said the latest investigation netted 104 pimps and rescued 79 victims nationwide.
One of the suspects is 25-year-old Joshua Harvey.
According to police records, Harvey convinced an underage girl she could make fast money working as a prostitute.
Harvey was busted when police said he took the girl to a Motel 6 in Mesa, where she thought she was meeting a John, but instead found an undercover police officer.
"We look at the individuals as being victims. They are not somebody that we were targeting for criminal violations," Hoffman said.
But, he said, agents are targeting the men who pimp them out.
Police records show Harvey admitted it, saying he posted an advertisement on the website backpage.com to get business.
"As anything these days, the internet is used widely for things such as drug trafficking, could be child prostitution and fraud so obviously that is one of the areas that we would focus on," Hoffman said.
Copyright 2012 KPHO(Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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