BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The FBI’s “Operation Cross Country VII” launched three days ago. In those three days, 159 people were arrested nationwide for exploiting children for sex, and 105 child victims were rescued.
In Metro-Birmingham, two “pimps” were arrested and three child victims were rescued.
According to Birmingham FBI Spokesman Paul Daymond, child prostitution is often out of sight and out of mind in Alabama.
“They were brought here, and so that is something to keep in mind,” Daymond said. “That problem does exist outside your own back door.”
He says pimps have a reason to bring children to Birmingham: Customers want it.
Tajuan McCarty knows about the marked for child sex; she used to be one of those children.
“It’s men with expendable income,” McCarty said. “The first time I was exploited on a tour — that’s what it’s called — I was brought from Atlanta to Birmingham at 15 years old. And there were about 40 of us between 14 and 19 during that time.”
McCarty found her way out of that cycle when she was arrested as an adult. The arrest was a wake-up call to her. Since then, she founded The Well House, a non-profit dedicated to helping victims of sex trafficking. She says her Christian faith helped her survive.
“He (Jesus) was the only reason I am alive,” McCarty said. “Because by my own hand and by man’s hand I should be dead. I should be dead.”
This is the seventh time the FBI has launched Operation Cross Country. The youngest victim recovered in this operation was just 13 years old. Pimps were exploiting her here in Birmingham.
Daymond has a message to pimps still working locally.
“We will get you eventually,” Daymond said. “And again it underscores the problem that’s out there.”
For McCarty, that problem is here. She says nothing has changed since she was a victim.