Media reports are focusing attention on a statement credited to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot in 2011 about the Super Bowl. As his state prepared to host the event, he said the Super Bowl is "the single largest human trafficking incident in the US."
The Huffington Post recalls that Attorney General Greg Abbot told USA Today in 2011: "The Super Bowl is the greatest show on Earth, but it also has an ugly underbelly. It's commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States. According to NewsNet5.com there is an ugly side to the Super Bowl that often escapes public attention at the height of the excitement: The Super Bowl is a "magnet for sex trafficking and child prostitution."
Observers say that sex traffickers target huge sporting events like the Super Bowl and the World Cup because the massive influx of people looking for fun provides the ideal setting for traffickers to do brisk business. The huge influx of male fans generates a massive demand that traffickers are looking to exploit.
NewsNet5.com reports that Stephanie Kilper, a representative of Operation Freedom Taskforce in Akron, Ohio, an organization that campaigns against human trafficking, said: "It's not so much that you become a victim at the Super Bowl, but that many victims are brought in to be used for all the men at the Super Bowl."
A 2011 study conducted by Traffick911 with law enforcement agencies found that Super Bowl online escort ads increased dramatically as the Super Bowl approached, from 135 in mid-January to 367 before the Big Game.
The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking reported that "tens of thousands of women and minors" were trafficked during the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa. A human trafficker was jailed for selling a 14 and 18-year-old for $300 as "a Super Bowl special," NewsNet5.com reports.
According to USA Today, each year 100,000 to 300,000 American children as young as 12 years old are recruited into the sex trade. Forbes reports that about 10,000 prostitutes were trafficked to Miami in 2010 for the Super Bowl.
Clemmie Greenlee, a former victim of sex trafficking from Nashville, told the Times-Picayune that she was abducted at 12 to work as a prostitute at major events such as the Super Bowl. She told the Times-Picayune: "If you don't make that number (of sex customers), you're going to dearly, dearly, severely pay for it. I mean with beatings, I mean with over and over rapings. With just straight torture. The worst torture they put on you is when they make you watch the other girl get tortured because of your mistake."
The Huffington Post reports that to combat sex trafficking at this year's Super Bowl, law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups are cooperating with local businesses.
They are handing out educational materials to local pubs and bars and informing them about the problem of human trafficking and how to help combat it.
According to Ray Parmer, a local agent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement: "We treat these people as victims. They are not arrested, they are not removed from the United States, we treat them as victims.”
Operation Freedom Taskforce recommends approaches to help combat trafficking:
Raise your awareness and educate others
Organize to help. If you're particularly motivated, consider hosting an event or starting a group to fight against trafficking in your community
Write editorials, letters to the editor, blog
Volunteer to help organizations that are working to end sex trafficking
Advocate for stronger laws. Find out what your elected representatives are doing to end trafficking and how you can help
Report suspected incidents of trafficking by calling the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. This hotline is not only to report suspected trafficking, but to get help if you have been a human trafficking victim