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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 29th, 2013
08:11 PM ET

Human trafficking survivor: Go after the johns

It is a shocking underworld, one that Americans usually associate with far away places, but a recent FBI sting reveals the terrifying reality that human trafficking is a real, and widespread problen in the U.S.

A raid in 70 cities led to the arrest of 70 pimps, and the rescue of 105 teenagers, some as young as 13 years old.

Asia Graves is a survivor of human trafficking, and nows work with young victims. She said the arrests will not curb the rate of exploitation, unless law enforcement starts targeting the demand side.

"It's making a dent, but you have to go after the 'johns' who are buying the sex," said Graves.

So-called johns often solicit sex during high-profile sports events, like the Superbowl, or Final Four.

"There is money flowing in and around those events, and we use those events to focus our energy, and to focus our intelligence, and move closer, and try to identify some of these young victims," said Ronald Hosko, assistant director for the FBI Criminal Investigative Division.

Graves put it more bluntly.

"More girls are going to be sold at the Superbowl than probably tickets," said Graves.

The FBI used the web site "Back Page" to target many of the suspects, a website that Graves said plays a huge role in sex crimes.

"I was sold on 'Back Page' myself as a minor," said Graves, who said users of the website can pay just $5 per ad.

"If you think about how much [Back Page] is making just on the adult section alone, $27 million, that's a lot of money," said Graves.

And a lot of victims. Indeed, the FBI found many of the victims and pimps in its latest sting online.

"Frequently they're online, frequently they're in social media sites," said Hosko.

It is a double-edged sword, said Graves. On the one hand, organizations like the one Graves is affiliated with – Fair Girls – use the websites where children and teenagers are trafficked to find victims and rescue them.

But on the other hand, the internet plays a huge role in supporting such illegal activity.

"It's an industry that's going to keep making money because men are able to sit in front their computers, and women, and buy sex," said Graves.

Call 1-888-373-7888, a 24/7 confidential trafficking hotline, for help, or to give tips, or visit www.fairgirls.org for help and resources.

CNN's Shaneika Dabney contributed to this report.

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