By Tracey Leong

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The FBI is working to combat sex trafficking nationwide. It’s a growing epidemic happening in all 50 states.

Local police and federal agents are combining forces to make arrests and rescue victims of sex trafficking.

Baltimore is among the cities targeted. It’s called Operation Cross Country and is part of a national initiative called Innocence Lost.

An undercover FBI agent identified as Winn, has been searching for young girls caught in sex trafficking in the Baltimore area.

According to the FBI, since the national initiative began in 2003, more than 6,500 children have been recovered and more than 2,500 people have been convicted for trafficking related crimes.

“We see it everywhere. It’s pervasive and persistent and it’s national and it’s even international,” said FBI executive assistant director Paul Abbate. “We’re talking about those most vulnerable in our society, kids, children being exploited.”

In Baltimore, agents are working aggressively to combat the criminal activity. Winn and his team had set up a date with a prostitute in a hotel room, who told agents she started in her mid-teens.

The woman is now 24 years old and has survived years of abuse.

“I’ve been through a lot. Held at gunpoint, I’ve done been raped. I’ve done been through a lot of stuff in my life,” she said.

Agents gave the woman a chance to escape.

“Take your ad down, maybe purchase a plane ticket and head back home and consider this being one of your last days,” agent Winn said.

Investigators work with child protective services to find a safe place for the young victims of sex trafficking.

So far this year, 84 kids have been recovered and 120 alleged traffickers have been arrested nationwide.

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