Reporter’s Notebook: On Oakland thoroughfare, sexual slavery a lucrative business

Dan Simon

Oakland (CNN) – I have lived in the San Francisco Bay area for nearly 5 years. As a reporter, I’d like to think I’m pretty well informed about what is happening in my community. But I had no idea what was happening on International Boulevard in Oakland, California.

It’s a major thoroughfare, but locals know it as the “track.” As we discovered while working with police and prosecutors, it is ground zero for child prostitution.

Go to the “track” at any time of the day or night and you will find numerous girls working the streets. And these girls are noticeably underage. According to police, many of them are recruited as young as 12 years old.

Undercover officers conduct weekly prostitution stings to get as many of them off the streets as possible. A couple weeks ago, we were invited to come along to watch how it happens.

Over the course of two nights, we saw the girls get detained and brought to a holding facility behind a mall where they are not treated as criminals, but as victims.

“To look at them as prostitutes is a complete misnomer because they’re sexually exploited children. They’re victims of child abuse and it’s slavery,” said Sharmin Bock, who heads up the human exploitation and trafficking unit for the Alameda District Attorney’s office.

As we learned, it’s clear there is one thing driving this whole enterprise: money. A pimp with 4 girls who each bring in $500 a day is taking in more than $600,000 a year. That’s all cash, tax free. Human trafficking has become so profitable that drug dealers are increasingly turning to pimping.

Experts say the girls aren’t allowed to keep any of the money.

“I have to say traffickers are by far the most manipulative of all the people I have prosecuted in my 21 years,” said Bock.

Most of the girls are runaways, with nowhere to turn and little self esteem. It’s likened to Stockholm syndrome, where victims bond with their captors. For all their labor, Bock says, they may wind up with a meal from a fast food restaurant.

The “track” basically has a whole infrastructure set up for prostitution. Cheap motels dot the boulevard and there are lots of side streets for johns to sit in their cars and wait for the right girl to come along.

Officers try to target the youngest girls. (Getting the exact age of a girl can be tricky because many of them lie once they’re detained and they often don’t carry identification.)

For me, the most surprising thing about our ride along was the realization that this is actually happening in America. You often think of this kind of activity happening in some foreign land.

As Sharmin Bock told me, “This is something that occurs in America with American men exploiting American children and other Americans facilitating what it in essence is modern day slavery today.”

Nearly 50 South Florida Arrests in National Prostitution Stings

South Florida police find only one minor in sweep of undercover sex arrests
Updated 9:15 AM EST, Wed, Nov 10, 2010

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A nationwide crackdown to get teens out of the sex trade took one underage girl in South Florida into safe custody and busted nearly 50 adults throughout Miami-Dade and Broward, authorities said Tuesday.

Called Operation Cross Country, the FBI, Department of Justice, local police and child advocate groups came together to conduct stings in 40 cities over the last 4 days.

Roughly 885 arrests of mostly adult prostitutes and some pimps were made, and 69 teenagers were taken into custody.

And those young women – girls – are the focus of this joint effort hoping to put a dent in the child prostitution underworld.

Tom Dart is hot on the trail of Chicago hookers. One former girl prostitute recalled how her pimp wanted “a girl that would make him a lot of money,” she said, according to the FBI. “So he sold me for a thousand dollars.”

She’d been trapped in the juvenile sex trade and made it clear: There remains a tremendous need for more crackdowns and more resources to offer safe alternatives.

The government crackdown has happened several times since 2003. But this year, it resulted in more arrests and more “rescues” – as the FBI calls it – of young teenage girls. There were 99 female prostitutes under 18 years old who were arrested in the nationwide crackdown. Exactly how young is unclear because the FBI is not giving details or discussing the crackdown in-depth with reporters.

Much of the information comes from a press release, which does not allow for a back and forth exchange to clarify, challenge details and probe further.

Still, it was a massive sting, implies the statement.

Local police say undercover agents called the escort ads and asked for a young girl. When she showed up at a South Florida hotel, the arrest was made with the hope she’d tell authorities who she works for.

Film Targets Child Sex Trafficking in Georgia

By: JULIA HARDING/myfoxatlanta

ATLANTA – Law enforcement agencies indicate child sex trafficking is big business in Atlanta and a local filmmaker is trying to do something to stop it.

Recent numbers show more than 400 girls are sexually exploited each month in Georgia.

The film, “The Candy Shop” premiered at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre Monday night. The film shines a bright light on the problem of child trafficking in Georgia.

“The definition of lust is to turn a human being into an object and so we wanted to symbolize that in the film,” said director Brandon McCormick.

McCormick said he decided to make the film after he learned hundreds of children are trafficked each month in Georgia.

“I learned about the stats about Atlanta. I live 15 minutes north of the city and realized in my backyard up to 500 girls a month are trafficked for sex in this city,” McCormick said.

McCormick said the film is in illustration of what happens when kids are sold for sex.

“There’s a candy shop owner who has a machine in his basement. He lures children in, they go in one side of the machine and come out candy on the other side and he sells it to the men,” said Cheryl Deluca-Johnson of Street Grace, an advocacy group aimed at ending child exploitation.

“I’m the metaphor for all the pimps out there that are taking children and selling them for rape. That’s really what it is,” said actor Doug Jones.

According to recent survey, 7,200 men will buy sex with an adolescent female in a given month in Georgia and most of the men come from outside of the perimeter.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement young girls are targeted and lured through postings in the newspaper and flyers. ICE agents say many girls are promised modeling careers and better opportunities.

Atlanta police investigators say a lot of the sex trafficking of children occurs not just on the streets of Atlanta but on the internet and they have an entire unit dedicated to combating the problem.

“They were being kidnapped off the MARTA train when I was here, also at Underground and then they were being sold along Metropolitan Avenue,” said Assistant District Attorney David Cook.

The executive director of Street Grace said the recent studies show the demand for child trafficking in Georgia is coming, mostly from men outside the perimeter and specifically, north of the perimeter.

I love Facebook but…..

Please read this if you have children who have a facebook account. Unfortunately there are people on this site that are seeking children either for their own pleasure or for a way to make money.

Child pornography trafficked on Facebook
Posted on Oct 28, 2010 | by Staff
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Facebook houses a subculture dedicated to trafficking child pornography and interacting with potential victims, according to an investigative report by

The social network site says it is doing all it can to keep pedophile materials from being displayed, but the news organization found plenty of suggestive and potentially illegal photographs of children on the website.

“Where kids play, predators prey. Predators and pedophiles are taking advantage of this site to target children, swap child pornography and share their exploits,” Donna Rice Hughes, president of Enough Is Enough, said in response to the report.

“It is entirely unacceptable that Facebook has allowed this content to surface on its site, and I fear this is only the tip of the iceberg.”

After uncovering the subculture of child pornography on Facebook, spent 90 minutes on the phone with two Facebook executives, including the company’s chief security officer, leading them click-by-click through what they found.

The executives were “dumbfounded, unaware of and unable to explain the extremely graphic content on the site,” reported Oct. 21. They were shocked that their filters had failed, and later some of the material was blocked but much of it remained available to the public.

“We’re constantly looking to improve our filter system,” Joe Sullivan, Facebook’s chief security officer, said. “As we get more information and tactics, we’ll use that to inform our system to make it even better.”

Displaying child pornography is against Facebook’s terms of use, and Facebook’s filter system utilizes a list of keywords from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. One challenge in blocking all illicit material, the company said, is that some keywords that child pornographers use have double meaning and are harmless in some cases.

“Some terms on these lists, including code words and acronyms, have multiple meanings, which makes it difficult to block them upfront without also preventing legitimate uses,” Facebook spokesman Simon Axten said.

“We do a careful evaluation of each term and consider both the potential for abuse and the frequency with which the term is used in other contexts when making decisions on whether to block or flag,” Axten said.

But Hemanshu Nigam, co-chairman of President Obama’s Online Safety Technology Working Group, told that the mass of pedophile content on Facebook would have been rooted out if the company were doing its job properly.

“The fact that Facebook missed the most basic terms in the terminology of child predators suggests that they’ve taken a checkbox approach instead of implementing real solutions to help real problems facing children online,” Nigam said.

Hughes, of Enough Is Enough, said the investigation underscores the fact that parents must be involved when their children use Facebook. A world of dangerous, exploitative content is just a few clicks away from any unsuspecting or curious teenager, she said.

“Over the past 10 years, we have seen a sort of perfect storm scenario emerge for Internet-initiated sexual crime against children,” Hughes said. “Never before have predators and pedophiles been able to hold a town hall together to share their exploits and encourage this type of horrific behavior, but now, through sites like Facebook, they can do just that.

“We find that these individuals are often at the cutting edge of technology, they have easy access to child pornography and to children, and law enforcement, the technology industry and parents are often left in the dust, which is why we focus on reaching those parents and educating about prevention,” Hughes said.

Enough Is Enough provides guidance for parents called Internet Safety Rules ‘N Tools, online at, including such tips as:

— Establish an ongoing dialogue and keep lines of communication open.

— Supervise use of all Internet-enabled devices.

— Know your child’s online activities and friends.

— Regularly check the online communities your children use, such as social networking and gaming sites, to see what information they are posting.

— Supervise the photos and videos your kids post and send online.

— Discourage the use of webcams and mobile video devices.

— Teach your children how to protect personal information posted online and to follow the same rules with respect to the personal information of others.

“Parents have to remain alert,” Hughes said.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.

Why do we continue to glamourize the Pimp lifestyle?

I was disheartened to see this post by In this post, it talks about how some of the football players for the Baltimore Ravens recently held a charity event in where some of the football players came dressed up in Halloween costumes. So far so good. As you proceed to the rest of the story you will see that Baltimore Ravens player Sergio Kindle decided to dress up like a pimp. apparently thinks this was a great idea.

It is sad to see that many people in a position in where people tend to look up to glamorize the lifestyle of a pimp. Several months ago, it was Kim Kardashian tweeting about “Big Pimpin” during a girls night out. Now we see a football player dressing up like a pimp. And to top it off, this was for a charity event.

Our society has become complacent with the idea of pimps and pimping. We tend to look at pimps as ” protectors” and tend to blame the woman and criminalize her for something that she may not have chosen to be a part of. I am not aware of this Sergio Kindle guy but my hope is that if there are young children who idolize him, that they do not see this picture. We do not need our children continuing to think that “pimping” or “pimps” are ok. Too many children see nothing wrong with this sort of lifestyle. What is so frustrating is seeing young children pimp out their own friends. This has  to stop. So please take the time to educate our youth on what pimps really do. Let them know how manipulative and abusive a pimp can be. We need to stop applauding what pimps do and start letting them know that we have had enough of their abuse and antics!

So shame on you Sergio Kindle. Before you go and dress up like a pimp, understand what is that they truly stand for. Understand that young boys do look up to you and dream of being a star football player like yourself. Set an example but not letting our kids think that pimps are cool.

And to, please educate yourselves as well before you continue making light of a situation that has become detrimental to our youth!

We need to take a stand against people in a position in where they can influence our youth. Let’s reach out to them and educate them on the issue of sex trafficking.

Kudos to the Kansas Attorney General!

Kansas Attorney General Six Pushes for Additional

Attorney General Steve Six pushed for additional restrictions following an announcement by the website that they will suspend certain sections of their adult and personals ads.

Topeka, KS – – “We must continue to shine a light on these dark corners of the internet where girls and young women are being victimized each and every day,” said Attorney General Six. “Today’s announcement by is a welcome step but is only the beginning in cracking down on predators who are thriving online.”

Last week, Attorney General Six demonstrated the ease by which traffickers of children can attract business online when he announced a pair of arrests tied to an ad placed on In each case, individuals allegedly travelled to meet with what they believed to be a 14 year old girl with the intention of having sex. These charges are only allegations and the individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

In its announcement today, immediately suspends certain areas of its personals and adult sections of the site while it continues to develop technologies, features and programs specifically tailored to prevent the misuse of the site and its services. Backpage also calls for the creation of a multi-stakeholder national task force to create best practices in the online classifieds industry to help stop the ability to advertise illegally.

“As Attorneys General, we are committed to attacking the crimes of human trafficking and prostitution before they happen, not waiting while more and more girls and young women are victimized,” said Attorney General Six, referring to the multi-state group of AGs who have called on sites like Craigslist and to take down its adult ads. “If you are engaging in child prostitution or child pornography online, we are going to find you and we will take you down.

“Only through strict review can these ads be targeted. I am encouraged by today’s announcement but I will continue to push for further restrictions and safeguards being put into place soon.”

Prosecute Craigslist—the ‘Wal-Mart of Child Sex Trafficking’

Doesn’t this title make you stop and think. Here Craiglist is being compared to Wal-Mart. What’s funny is that every single anti trafficking organization and modern-day abolitionist in the country was in an uproar over the Adult Section of Craiglist. I wonder how many of these people still shop at Wal-Mart. Probably all of them since in the U.S it seems as though the only trafficking that people acknowledge is sex trafficking.
Please take the time to learn more about what it is that Wal-Mart is doing. Learn more about how their operations work and how many innocent children are exploited all for our benefit. I know that Wal-Mart is cheap and with today’s ecomony we all want to save money. However, we need to be aware and so what we can to help advocate for the countless number of children being exploited. We need to change our buying habits and stop spending money in companies who are known to help fuel the demand on labor trafficking. The same way we attack “johns” for fueling the demand for child sex trafficking is the same way we need to attack these corporations that fuel the demand for cheap labor.

During the last three years, officers with the Calgary Police Service’s vice unit have been working undercover to rescue children being sold for sex. The backdrop is not a street corner late at night, however. The new “kiddie stroll” is online and always open for business.

It began in 2007 when the parents of a missing teenage girl in British Columbia contacted police after somehow finding out that their daughter was being sold for sex hundreds of kilometres away on Craigslist’s Calgary website. Fortunately, the girl was rescued by police and returned safely home.

Not an Isolated Incident
“Operation Carmel” was launched by Calgary police to determine if the case was merely an isolated incident. It wasn’t. Over a two-year period, police made more than 30 arrests for criminal activity advertised through Craigslist and rescued three more underage girls being sold for sex acts. Traffickers, some of them known gang associates, used the website to sell victims brought in from Vancouver and as far away as Winnipeg.

“Operation Street Fighter” was a second undercover investigation launched by Calgary police. It found “strong indications” of human trafficking involving Asian organized crime controlling women in the sex trade. Confidential informants told police again and again that Craigslist was “the medium of choice” for these criminals.

At the same time, the Peel Regional Police vice unit in Ontario was laying charges against Imani Nakpangi, a violent criminal whose victims include a 14-year-old girl with fetal alcohol syndrome who was a ward of the province. Nakpangi earned more than $400,000 by selling her and a homeless teenager, both advertised on Craigslist.

The new ‘kiddie stroll’ is online and always open for business.

In addition to multiple cases in Calgary and the Greater Toronto Area, sex traffickers in B.C. have relied on Craigslist as a fast, efficient and free way to market their victims. In March 2009, police in the B.C. Lower Mainland discovered an entire network of “micro-brothels”—condos and apartments—being used to sell trafficked women from China for sex, again advertised through Craigslist. The North Vancouver RCMP detachment even sent out a public warning in July 2009 about a ring of drug and sex traffickers who were advertising sex with under-age local girls on Craigslist and “using violence or the threat of violence to control the girls.”

Not surprisingly, the recent RCMP “threat assessment” on human trafficking highlighted this Internet-facilitated sexual exploitation as a primary cause for concern. Craigslist has become an integral part of the technology of trafficking and needs to be stopped.

Craigslist’s lawyers recently testified before a U.S. Congressional hearing that there has been “dramatic growth” in the number of erotic services advertisements in major Canadian cities—Toronto saw a 100 percent increase between March 2008 to March 2009. At the same time, major U.S. cities saw a decrease of 90 per cent due to measures implemented by Craigslist in the U.S., but not in Canada.

Last month, Craigslist shut down its erotic/adult services sections completely across the U.S., but to date has refused to do so in our country. The company and its executives continue to knowingly allow the website to be used by traffickers here.

Called the “Walmart of child sex trafficking” in a recent CNN report, Craigslist is in a class of its own. No other website rivals its notoriety and reach. It is simply not true that shutting its erotic/adult services sections will result in complete displacement of the crime to other websites. Even if it does result in some displacement, police should pursue those sites as well. Since the johns still need to be reached for traffickers to profit, the problem never really goes completely underground.

Instead of shutting down their erotic/adult services section in Canada, Craigslist says they are involved in “an ongoing dialogue” with the RCMP. While this dialogue continues, child and adult trafficking victims are being sold through Craigslist’s Canadian websites. Would the RCMP be in a “dialogue” for over 18 months if Craigslist had a “drugs” section that offered cocaine and heroin for sale, complete with photos? The site would be shut down immediately and Craigslist would be charged with aiding and abetting drug trafficking. Why are children entitled to less immediate action?

Time to Lay Charges
Where are Canada’s political leaders and police chiefs on this issue? In the United States, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was a key champion for change to crack down on Craigslist. Canada needs someone to stand up to Craigslist and demand they end the open flesh market that includes selling our country’s daughters, enabling traffickers to profit lucratively.

If Craigslist is unwilling to immediately end the criminal assistance that its website is providing to traffickers, then charges should be laid under the Criminal Code against the company, its founder Craig Newmark, and CEO Jim Buckmaster for aiding and abetting human trafficking and the prostitution of minors.

A Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia, Benjamin Perrin is the author of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking, and a member of the C2C Journal editorial board. This article is courtesy of Troy Media.

Kudos to Arizona State University Students!

Good to see more college students raising awareness on the issue of child sex trafficking! Please read what a group of ASU students are doing to help raise awareness on this issue. Now hopefully we will start seeing students shed light on the issue of child labor trafficking.

Club raises awareness of local prostitution
By Danielle Legler October 13, 2010 at 10:27 pm

An ASU club raised awareness about local human trafficking and child prostitution Wednesday by showing a screening of the documentary “Branded.”

ASU’s Fighting Against Slavery and Trafficking club, FAST, was created in spring 2009 in order to raise awareness to prevent enslavement and trafficking of human beings around the world.

Members work around a three-tiered plan focusing on awareness, volunteering and fundraising.

Co-president of FAST Leah Stonefeld a sustainability junior, said the club chose to have a screening of “Branded” at the Tempe campus because it specifically documents child prostitution in Phoenix and Las Vegas.

“Many people don’t realize how close prostitution occurs to them,” she said. “They aren’t aware of how prevalent it is in their own city.”

In addition to screening the movie, the president and co-founder of Streetlight Patrick McCalla spoke about the statistics and prevalence of child sex slavery in Phoenix.

Streetlight is a local nonprofit organization in Phoenix that attempts to eradicate child prostitution.

McCalla, who is also the co-producer of “Branded,” said that the average age of a prostitute in Arizona is 13 years old.

He mentioned that pimps often approach girls at malls after school and target girls who seem like they have low self-esteem.

They manipulate girls by telling them that they’re a photographer and want to take modeling photos of them. Then, they gradually lure them into a life of prostitution.

He also spoke about how the Phoenix Police Department’s vice squad is leading the nation in investigating and cracking down on child prostitution.

“Our squad treats these girls as victims, instead of as girls who are willingly out there to make an extra buck,” McCalla said.

He said he was inspired to get involved in the prevention of child prostitution when hearing about a case that is now featured in the documentary.

The case involved the kidnapping and forced prostitution of a 15-year-old Phoenix girl. He said that though the stories are scarring, they motivate him to try to make a change.

Anthony Stuertzel, a political science junior who attended the screening, said he was emotionally moved after seeing the documentary.

“I didn’t realize that so much child prostitution was happening in the United States,” he said. “Now I feel like I have to do something to change it.”

Members of FAST meet every first and third Friday at 2 p.m. in Room 62 in the College of Design North to plan awareness and fundraising events for their cause.

Reach the reporter at

Exclusive: Bieyanka Moore is 15-year-old Runaway Charrida Smalley – Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Victim

***This information is being reported by***

Reports had surfaced on that new porn starlet Bieyanka Moore was actually 15-year-old runaway Charrida Smalley. The story is that someone had recognized Bieyanka as Charrida after seeing Charrida’s poster on a missing children’s website. called the Nevada Child Seekers missing children center to report that one of their missing teens had called into their internet radio show last week.

Robb Revere of had contacted Bieyanka and had asked her to come on his show to clear up the rumors and to finally set the record straight about how old she really is. She agreed and called into his show claiming she was 19 and how Nevada Child Seekers had made a mistake. She said the website mixed up her information with Charrida Smalley’s. Bieyanka tells Robb she also goes by the alias Tyler Chanel Evans.

Robb has up this interview on his Youtube page where an associate first starts off by calling Nevada Child Seekers. One of the people he interviewed is Bob Abrams. Bob says Charrida is there in the Las Vegas area and is fact underage and a runaway. He says they’re looking for the people who exploited her and someone will be going to jail.

Bieyanka comes into the interview towards the end but the interview is cut short after a couple of minutes. Robb says the interview was being recorded to an external hard drive that was at capacity, it became full, and had crashed. So he lost the rest of her interview.

Robb now has up this new interview and he says he can now confirm that 15-year-old Charrida Smalley is indeed Bieyanka Moore. Robb first interviews Cynthia who had first left Rob a voice mail. She says she just got word that Charrida had come home yesterday. The family now just wants the porn video Charrida had done to be taken down and to stop distributing the video. She wants to verify that Charrida is indeed 15-years-old.

Robb then interviews the real Tyler Chanel Evans. She says she’s the real 19-year-old that Bieyanka Moore is claiming to be. Tyler is a resident of Las Vegas where she works as a stripper & club promoter. She says Bieyanka had stolen an invalid ID of hers. Tyler says the ID was an INVALID ID. She says it’s an invalid ID that Bieyanka had stolen after she had changed her address. She says she wouldn’t be able to use her old ID and doesn’t understand how Bieyanka was allowed to.

All the information Bieyanka had given as her own is the personal information belonging to Tyler. Tyler even says Bieyanka looks nothing like her and how Bieyanka is taller than her and has larger breasts.

Tyler had first met Bieyanka after finding her homeless on the streets in Las Vegas. Tyler didn’t know she was 15 and a runaway at the time.

You can listen to that second video of Robb’s also on his Youtube page.

I first emailed Nevada Child Seekers on Monday, September 13. I first talked to Michelle Sahagun who then put me in contact with case manager Bob Abrams. I explained to them how new porn starlet Bieyanka Moore was being accused of being 15-year-old runaway Charrida Moore. She was also accusing the agency of putting her picture & information on a missing child poster. Of course a missing child center didn’t accidentally put a porn star’s information on a missing child poster belonging to a 15-year-old runaway. But that was Bieyanka’s claim. Bob tells me they didn’t make a mistake and the information & picture was given to them by Charrida Smalley’s family.

So to wrap up this entire mess, Charrida Smalley is a 15-year-old Florida runaway. She made her way to Nevada where she ended up homeless and on the streets. She then meets 19-year-old Tyler Chanel Evans eventually stealing her invalid ID. Charrida then transforms into Bieyanka Moore where she found her way onto a Reality Kings set.

Who brought Charrida Smalley into the porn industry? What went wrong at Reality Kings that resulted in a 15-year-old shooting a porn video? How many others have fallen through the cracks at Reality Kings, or any other porn company?

How many others were also brought in by the people who brought in Charrida? You can’t claim that this 15-year-old masterminded all of this without outside help. From Traci Lords to Brent Corrigan, they were all brought in by someone who knew how old they were.

I’m expecting more information in the coming days from hopefully four more sources. Two of those I was expecting the information already but it hasn’t happened yet. So I don’t know how many more updates on this case I’ll be doing or if this is the last of it. Maybe now I can finally get some sleep this week. But at least she’s home now away from this industry because you all know it wasn’t going to end well for her. Hopefully she never tries to come back here again either.

Thank you to Michelle Sahagun, Bob Abrams, and Stephanie Parker at Nevada Child Seekers for all your help. Thank you to Robb Revere at for all your help. And thank you to everyone else who helped that I can’t mention. Thank you!

Online sex ads complicate crackdowns on teen trafficking

(CNN) — Behind every adult service ad on the internet is a story.

Sometimes it’s a story of a grown woman who has chosen prostitution as a path to a better life. More often, it’s a story of a woman being forced to sell her body by a pimp.

And then there are the children, and the mothers that miss them.

“They told me to look on Craigslist and it almost blew my mind,” the mother of one missing 12-year-old told CNN. “She was there with a wig on. She was there in a purple negligee.

“She’s a normal 12-year-old — Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, they’re her favorite,” the mother said. “She’s always screaming and hollering and singing. She’s a great young lady.”

The same day the woman spoke to CNN, her daughter was rescued by police at a seedy hotel near Washington where she was being sold for sex. And she’s not alone.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website contains thousands of posters of missing children. Many are girls, classified as “endangered runaways,” and the center says more than fifty of them have been pushed into the sex trade. But that’s just a snapshot, a tiny indicator of the true scale of the problem.

“Nobody knows what the real numbers are,” said Ernie Allen, the NCMEC’s chief executive. “I’m also confident that the internet has changed the dynamic of this whole problem. We’re finding an astounding number of kids being sold for sex on the internet.”

Allen said the best source of information on the number of underage girls being trafficked online are websites themselves. While online classified giant Craigslist shut down its “adult services” pages in early September, other sites like are filling the vacuum left behind, he said. And while there are clues in the way the ads are written, only a small fraction of them get referred to law enforcement or organizations like the NCMEC. told CNN that it promptly responds to law enforcement inquiries, and says the site includes links to help users notify the NCMEC if they identify potential abuses.

Craigslist argues it has had a vigorous approach to vetting adult services ads. It says that in the 15 months before closing the adult services section altogether, it rejected 700,000 ads because they violated the website’s rules, including advertising prostitution and ads “indicative of an underage person.” Craigslist says ads are reported to NCMEC “when our manual reviewers see anything falling within NCMEC Cybertipline reporting guidelines.”

Video: Craigslist censors adult services But Allen said his organization, which is the nation’s primary reporting agency for missing kids, received just 132 referrals from Craigslist over that same 15-month period.

“The small number of reports makes it difficult to get a sense of the true scope of the problem,” Allen said. “We’ve seen lots of ads where there is obviously a young person in the ad. Now is she 18 or 17? Is she 22 or 12?”

Craigslist has done more than any other website with an adult services section to try to combat the problem of underage sex trafficking. It has cooperated with the FBI by providing evidence against pimps and required phone and credit card verification, so ads left a paper trail for the police to follow.

“Our frustration is that we’ve said to them if the person in the photo looks young, report it. If there’s language in the ad that suggests that there may be the use of young people for prostitution, report it,” Allen said. “It’s eliminated the graphic pornography in the ads, it’s eliminated blatant nudity. What it has not done is put a significant dent in the problem with child prostitution and child trafficking and that was the goal.”

The other problem facing NCMEC and police departments across America is that the internet has changed the business of prostitution. Craigslist’s decision to shut down adult services — which followed pressure from the attorneys general in nearly 20 states — will do little to alter that fundamental fact.

In Atlanta, Georgia, one of the country’s busiest prostitution markets due to its position as a highway and air travel hub, police and prosecutors witnessed the effect of the internet on the business of prostitution firsthand.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told CNN that eight years ago, law enforcement began a serious crackdown on the pimps that control most underage victims, until the pimps vanished.

“At that time, we saw a number of underage girls standing on street corners, and they were usually standing there because a pimp had placed them there,” Howard said. “After we started our crackdown, we began to notice that the numbers became fewer and fewer, and we were wondering, ‘What’s going on?’

“What we found is that there was a wholesale transformation from young girls standing on the streets to those same young girls being sold through Craigslist and other internet vendors,” Howard said. “That has put us in a terrible position, because much of the illegal sex activity now goes on almost undetected by the police. The numbers we believe remain the same, but what has happened is that they are now out of sight.”

A Georgia advocacy group called “A Future Not A Past” commissioned a research firm to survey men who admit to buying sex over the internet, and the results were staggering. Based on interviews with more than 200 men, the research study projected that 7,200 men a month were buying sex from adolescent girls in Georgia alone.

“It just took my breath away,” said Kaffie McCullough, the group’s director. “The buyers are able to go on computers in the privacy of their own house or home or apartment or hotel room, and just dial up and have the girl come to them. So you don’t have to have the more unsafe part of driving in neighborhoods that aren’t maybe your best neighborhoods.”

Allen, McCullough and others believe the best way to combat the problem of online underage sex trafficking isn’t through better screening tools, but through fear. As long as pimps and the men who buy girls for sex feel protected by the anonymity of the web, the trade will continue.

“Our goal in this from the beginning has been to dramatically increase the risk and eliminate the profitability because this is the treatment of children as commodities for sex sale, this is 21st-century slavery,” Allen said. “It would be progress if pressure on this end had the effect of moving this problem back onto the streets.”

That is a measure of how dangerous and widespread online trafficking of underage sex has become — that the group leading the campaign to protect children would prefer to see the problem back on the streets.

“It’s an outrageous thing to say, but one of our goals is to move these operators into some other illicit enterprise — to get them out of the trafficking of human beings and into some other illegal business,” Allen said.