Eighteen children were rescued and 11 pimps were arrested in Colorado as part of a nationwide, week-long crackdown on commercial child sex trafficking, the FBI reported Monday.
Nationally, 168 children were recovered and 281 pimps arrested, the FBI said.
Two accused pimps were arrested by Aurora police, who were searching for a 16-year-old runaway girl with a history of mental disorders, according to arrest documents filed at the Arapahoe County Courthouse.
D'Andre Oneal Stephens, 19, and Brianna Crumbliss, 20, have been charged with pimping a child, according to court documents. Each was being held on a $50,000 bond.
Aurora police followed a tip and eventually tracked the runaway to a hotel on the 14000 block of East Evans Avenue in Aurora. There, they found the girl in a room with Crumbliss and Stephens, the court documents said.
The teenage runaway told officers she had been working as a prostitute and giving all of her money to Stephens and Crumbliss, documents said. She also told police the two had taken her picture and posted it online to advertise her services.
Stephens allegedly beat the girl if she didn't collect enough money from dates, the documents said.
The FBI's operation is an annual sting aimed at curbing child sex trafficking. The cases often begin in local jurisdictions where authorities target truck stops, casinos and websites, the FBI said in a news release. Federal prosecutors then join the cases so federal charges can be brought.
Also in Colorado, four men were charged in Douglas County. They were identified as Jesus Olmos, Jay Stenhaug, Brandon Paxson and Justin Smith, said Michelle Yi, a spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office. Details of their charges were not made available Monday.
In Mesa County, two men were arrested after undercover officers lured them to hotels with promises of having sex with 14-year-old girls.
John P. Pomanski, 48, of Grand Junction, was charged with sexual assault-Internet sexual exploitation of a child and Internet luring of child/intent of sexual contact/exploitation, according to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office website.
David Shawn Prephan II, 25, of Perrysburg, Ohio, was charged with soliciting for child prostitution and Internet luring of a child/intent of sexual contact/exploitation, the sheriff's website showed.
"Child sex traffickers create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims," said Leslie R. Caldwell, assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.
"They use fear and force and treat children as commodities of sex to be sold again and again. This operation puts traffickers behind bars and rescues kids from their nightmare so they can start reclaiming their childhood."