Six people were to be arraigned in Dedham District Court today after being arrested Friday during a nationwide crack-down on teenage prostitution, an FBI spokeswoman said.

Six people were due to be arraigned in Dedham District Court today after being arrested Friday during a nationwide crack-down on teenage prostitution, an FBI spokeswoman said.


In a three-night initiative, the FBI rescued more than 45 suspected teenage prostitutes, some as young as 13, in a nationwide sweep to remove kids from the illegal sex trade and punish their accused pimps.


Gail Marcinkiewicz, spokeswoman for the bureau’s Boston office, confirmed that six of the 571 people charged in the sweep had South Shore ties. She was not immediately able to say if those charged lived in the area or were simply arrested here.


Information on the arraignments was not immediately available.


Sixteen police departments from around Massachusetts participated in Operation Cross Country. Nationwide, more than 50 alleged pimps were arrested, according to preliminary bureau data.


The teenage prostitutes found in the investigation ranged in age from 13 to 17.


Authorities arrested five alleged female prostitutes, ages 19 to 33, around midnight Friday at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf, according to published reports. The women allegedly agree to provide sex to undercover officers for up to $300 an hour.


Historically, federal authorities rarely play a role in anti-prostitution crackdowns, but the FBI is becoming more involved as it tries to rescue children caught up in the business.


“The goal is to recover kids. We consider them the child victims of prostitution,” FBI Deputy Assistant Director Daniel Roberts said.


“Unfortunately, the vast majority of these kids are what they term ‘throwaway kids,’ with no family support, no friends. They’re kids that nobody wants, they’re loners. Many are runaways,” Roberts said.


Most of the children are put into the custody of local child protection agencies.


Agents in cities from Miami to Chicago to Anchorage, Alaska took part in the operation.


Special Agent Melissa Morrow of the FBI’s Washington office said the operation has put them on the trail of a particular 16-year-old prostitute they still haven't found.


Adult prostitutes arrested during the operation provided key tips about the girl, the agent said.


“She is currently 16 and started when she was 13. Now she is out there recruiting other juveniles as well,” said Morrow, adding that finding the girl is “at the top of our list.”


The federal effort is also designed to hit pimps with much tougher prison sentences than they would likely get in state criminal courts.


Government prosecutors look to bring racketeering charges or conspiracy charges that can result in decades of jail time.


“Some of these networks of pimps and their organizations are very sophisticated, they're interstate,” said Roberts, requiring wiretaps and undercover sting operations to bring charges.


The weekend roundup marked the third such Operation Cross Country, and is part of a broader federal program launched in 2003 to crack down on the sexual exploitation of children.


The Patriot Ledger