Operation Broken Heart netted 275 sexual predators in LA County in the month of May. Undercover investigators targeted men trolling the internet for sex with minors.
They busted a U.S. Army soldier, a teaching assistant for special needs kids, a retired sheriff's deputy and a Los Angeles Fire Department explorer among many others. Law enforcement from different agencies including the LAPD, Long Beach, LA County Sheriff's and Homeland Security participated in the joint task force. "They were soliciting children to participate in sexual activities. All kinds. If you can imagine it, they were soliciting it," says Chief Bill McSweeney of LA County Sheriff's Department. Despite the arrests, detectives say the problem isn't going away. They urge parents to be vigilant. Many of the children who are victimized by internet sex predators end up being sold for sex. The U.S. Department of justice reports that 300,000 children are at risk of being sold for sex every year. We visited Freehab, a shelter in the San Fernando Valley for victims of sex trafficking. The women spoke candidly about their horrible experiences. Shayland Smith said, "He tricked me by telling me I'm beautiful. Telling me I was worth something." Katelyn Ritter said,"I was raped and forced to do things I didn't want to do and that has haunted me my entire life." Ashley Cantrell had this to say, "It's insane how dangerous it is and how we don't know. I wish I had someone telling me not to do that, you don't have to do that."