Mr. Gonzales said 31 men and women have been indicted, and 19 of those have been arrested. The charges include sexual trafficking in children and taking minors across state lines for the purposes of prostitution. Both are federal offenses.
Federal grand juries in four cities - Harrisburg, Pa., Detroit, Camden, N.J., and Honolulu - have been working on the indictments as part of a campaign by the Department of Justice called "Innocence Lost," a national effort to crack down on sexual exploitation of children.
"The abhorrent acts alleged in these charges include children being herded around the country as sex slaves, forced to work as prostitutes in brothels and at truck stops, and beaten at the hands of pimps and peddlers," Mr. Gonzales said.
FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker of the criminal investigative division said, "The FBI and its partners cannot restore the innocence lost from those children who are lured into childhood prostitution.
"These children are victimized twice; first by the handler
who exploits them and secondly by the individual who solicits them."
The indictments - from grand juries in Detroit, Camden, N.J., and Harrisburg, Pa. - targeted the purported operators of four child prostitution rings. Some of the children had been reported missing or had run away because they had been abused at home, the FBI's Swecker said.
At least 14 men and women from Toledo are among the defendants:
●Franklin Robinson, 36, of 1231 Bronson Ave.
●Derek Maes, 41, of 956 Wright St.
●Terrance Williams, 41, of Chase Street.
●Derick Price, 25, of 3372 Richardson Rd.
●Dawan Oliver, 23, of East Hudson Street.
●Shimon Maxwell, 31, of 442 Bronson Ave.
●Eric Pennington, 43, of Clifton Boulevard.
●Eric Hayes, 34, of 3919 Emmajean Rd.
●Kory Barham, 27, of 1702 Calumet Ave.
●Robert Scott, 42, of 3425 Nebraska Ave.
●Robert Scott II, 22, of 844 Avondale Ave.
●David Powers, 36, of Palmer Street.
●Melissa Jacobs, 23, of Chase Street.
●Tana Adkins, 27, of the Ravine Park Village.
Also named in the indictment were Kenneth Britton, 40, of Detroit and Atlas Aquarious Simpson, whose age and address were not available.
The indictments, which include multiple counts of conspiracy, sexual trafficking of children, racketeering, and money laundering, were unsealed yesterday.
The defendants are accused of sending more than $310,000 in proceeds from the operation to one another.
David Bauer, an assistant U.S. attorney in Toledo, whose office assisted in the two-year investigation, said several of the defendants appeared in U.S. District Court in Toledo this week for detention hearings.
He said authorities are searching for the others. Eight of the defendants are considered armed and dangerous.
The 102-page indictment includes accusations that some defendants engaged in sexual activity with juveniles, assisted in providing extensive travel and transportation of women and girls to Toledo and other cities, and sold and gave women and girls to one another to work as prostitutes.
James Clancy, an assistant U.S. attorney in Harrisburg, said the extensive investigation into the operation revealed that no fewer than 10 girls were forced into prostitution by the defendants between 2001 and 2005.
He said most of the girls were from Toledo.
"The indictment alleges specific allegations involving 10 juveniles, but there are more involved in the investigation," Mr. Clancy said.
"We have to remember many of the girls are children and, even though they don't always act as children, they are children. They were thrust into this kind of life, and we believe not very willingly at all," he said.
One of the 12-year-olds engaged in sex with a defendant, who introduced her into prostitution after receiving her in a trade from her grandfather for crack cocaine, the indictment said. "The grandfather traded the girl to a pimp to feed his crack habit," Mr. Clancy said.
If convicted, the defendants could face up to life in prison, $250,000 fines on each conviction, and each could be subject to $1 million in forfeitures.
In Detroit, a grand jury charged four Ohio residents with forcing two girls, 14 and 15, to have sex at a truck stop in Michigan. The girls had been held as virtual prisoners in Toledo, where they were told to address one defendant, Deric Willoughby, as "Daddy" and taken to hotel rooms for prostitution. Their payments were eventually turned over to Mr. Willoughby, the indictment said.
Another defendant, Richard Lamar Gordon, is identified in the indictment as a truck driver who took the girls from a parking lot in the Toledo area to the Michigan truck stop and had sex with one of them. He has not been arrested.
"It is an insidious crime. The first reaction of a lot of people is that these girls must be doing this willingly. However, they became victims long before they were prostituted by these pimps," Mr. Clancy said.
The government is seeking forfeiture of 10 homes in Toledo and 18 vehicles believed to have been used in the operation or obtained with money derived from it.
George Finley and Harold Harris, who are stepbrothers of Franklin Robinson, were accused in a separate indictment of traveling from Pennsylvania to Mr. Robinson's home in Toledo after learning about the grand jury investigation and destroying photographs of pimps and women believed to have been involved in the ring.
Mr. Finley and Mr. Harris, whose ages and addresses were not available, were each charged with obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and conspiracy. They each face up to 25 years in prison and $500,000 fines.
Mr. Robinson was arrested last month and taken to Harrisburg on federal charges. He was accused in a federal indictment of running a prostitution ring in cities and truck stops throughout the East and Midwest.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.38.89037 -77.03196
WASHINGTON - One of the largest mass arrests of alleged operators of child prostitution rings in U.S. history was announced yesterday by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who said children from Toledo as well as Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and Hawaii were "herded" around the country and forced to have sex at such places as truck stops.