A weeklong child-prostitution sting netted 281 arrests and the rescue of 168 children nationwide, Time reports .
Dubbed “Operation Cross Country VIII,” the string is part of a larger effort that has so far rescued about 3,600 children and led to the convictions of 1,450 people.
“Operation Cross Country reveals that children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day,” said John Ryan, the CEO and president of NCMEC, in a statement.
The FBI originally targeted casinos, truck stops and websites advertising dating services, using that information to expand the string.
“Child sex traffickers create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims,” Leslie Caldwell, assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, said in a statement. “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.”