WASHINGTON (AFP) - Federal authorities conducted a sweep through more than 100 US cities and recovered 168 children from child sex trafficking, the FBI said on Monday.
Some 281 pimps were also arrested in Operation Cross-Country, a week-long enforcement that Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey said can help "end the cycle of victimisation" of US youth.
Denver was the FBI division with the most recovered victims, with 18, followed by Cleveland, Ohio (16), Chicago (13) and Atlanta (11).
Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said sex traffickers "create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims" who are targeted and sold for sex in the United States.
"They use fear, and force, and treat children as commodities of sex to be sold again and again," Mr Caldwell said in a statement.
"This operation puts traffickers behind bars and rescues kids from their nightmare so they can start reclaiming their childhood."
The FBI, Justice Department and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have recovered nearly 3,600 children since partnering in 2003 to address the growing child prostitution problem in the United States.
Their task force operations have led to some 1,450 convictions.