19 arrested in sting on prostitution
by Katy Ruth Camp
krcamp@mdjonline.com
October 29, 2009 01:00 AM | 10994 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA - Marietta Police detectives arrested 19 prostitutes and found two exploited juveniles last week while participating in the FBI's Operation Cross Country, aimed at ending child prostitution.

More than 1,500 law enforcement officers in 36 cities took part in the program between last Thursday and Saturday. Nationwide, 84 suspected pimps were arrested and 52 minors were recovered.

Marietta Detective Sgt. Patrick Bonito said one of the recovered minors, who is pregnant, is from Cobb. The other had been reported as a missing child.

"We often try to appeal to the people we arrest for prostitution to see if they know of anyone under the age of 17 that is being used for prostitution," Bonito said. "Each of them has a different story, but many have been doing this since they were 12, or young teenagers. So we tell them, you may not have had someone say to you that you didn't have to do this, and by helping us, they have the opportunity to save someone that is in danger of going down the same path they did."

Bonito and two detectives are members of the metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force. That group is constantly working to get minors off the street, but also participates in FBI programs to record national totals for certain time periods.

"Our top priority is to remove them from the streets and that environment, and expose them to different programs they can take part in to get their lives back on track," Bonito said. "We get them into counseling, and may put them in foster care or protective custody. We really focus on trying to rebuild their self-worth, so that they can be functional members of society and do not go back into prostitution."
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