BOSTON (AP) – Police say a federal crackdown on drug dealing has some alleged dealers and gang leaders turning to prostitution for a safer way to make a living.

Law enforcement officials and victim advocates tell The Boston Globe that girls as young as 14 have become a prized commodity for criminals who would rather exploit them than face the possibility of a long federal drug sentence.

Part of the problem is that pimping has become easier in the Internet age, which allows those involved in prostitution to avoid street arrests.

But some police and community leaders say the trend is also the result of a concerted push to use tough federal sentencing laws to lock up drug dealers and gang leaders involved in shootings.

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