Pimps allegedly transported girls as young as 13 from Oklahoma - many of them runaways - to cities in Texas, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Arkansas for prostitution, said U.S. Attorney Robert McCampbell.
McCampbell said pimps recruited young girls and then controlled them through violence, threats and intimidation. As many as 13 underage girls, and several women over 18, were involved, he said.
He would not elaborate on the evidence that led to the indictments.
"Pimps transported these children so they could be sexually exploited on the streets of places like Houston, Denver, Harrisburg and Miami," McCampbell said. Prostitutes were also put to work at truck stops in and around Oklahoma City.
A new law passed by Congress last year allows stiffer punishment for those accused of crimes against children and will be used against the defendants, McCampbell said. Four face potential life sentences without parole, he said.
FBI agent Sam Macaluso said initial reports began surfacing about a year ago from informants involved with Oklahoma City's street gangs. "When you have children involved, law enforcement pulls out all the stops," he said.
The investigation is continuing and additional arrests are expected.
By Sean Murphy