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FBI to crack down on sex trafficking during Super Bowl with “victim-centric” approach

Image credit: Super Bowl 50 Facebook page.
Image credit: Super Bowl 50 Facebook page.

The FBI has come up with a new plan to “reach anyone who is being trafficked” during this year’s Super Bowl.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Doug Hunt says agents will rely on nonprofit groups, such as Polaris, to make initial contact with the women and girls.

Hunt acknowledged that finding these exploited women and girls and gaining their cooperation will be difficult. Oftentimes, victims are too fearful to help.

Hunt declined to say exactly how the San Francisco Bay Area operation would work, only that they ‘d try to reach out to the victims in the run-up to the game — to give them “a way out” and get them to “turn against their traffickers,” according to the NY Post.

Jennifer Madden, a local prosecutor who has worked with trafficked girls says: “A lot of times they don’t see themselves as victims…They don’t fully grasp how they’ve come into this, how they are being exploited, and they may not be amenable to services.”

There are few definitive stats on the connection between sex trafficking and the Super Bowl, but it seems the event is a magnet for trafficking, just because of the sheer number of men pouring into these cities.

As far back as 2014, a coalition of LE agencies and victims groups have been meeting to tackle the issue and train hospitality workers on how to spot trafficking victims.

There’s no evidence that more women and girls are forced into prostitution to satisfy the Super Bowl market. However, those already trafficked may be moved to such events, as their traffickers see more money-making opportunities — according to anti-trafficking advocates.

Researchers who studied sex trafficking leading up to the 2015 Super Bowl found an “uptick” in online sex ads. They also discovered that the Super Bowl was being used as an online ‘marketing tool’ by pimps.

The Arizona state study found that more than 60% of the 1,300 prostitution ads that were flagged, showed “significant” signs the sex provider was a trafficking victim. The Post reports that during a 6-month operation leading up to the 2015 game, the FBI and other LE agencies arrested 360 sex buyers and 68 traffickers.

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