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Monday, January 27, 2014

Sex Trafficking at the Super Bowl

     Big public events that attract tens of thousands of people also draw criminals such as thieves, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Many of the hookers are teenage women, runaways forced into the sex trade. For police administrators big events are law enforcement and security headaches. If crime is prevented, no big deal. If something goes wrong, there's hell to pay. For law enforcement, events like the Super Bowl are no-win propositions.

     The Super Bowl presents an enormous challenge to law enforcement practitioners. While the first concern is terrorism, there is also the problem of crime. On February 2, 2014, the annual Super Bowl extravaganza will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the home of the NFL's New Jersey Giants. The proximity of this venue to New York City will make it an attractive base of operation for a small army of flesh traffickers.

     Danielle Douglas, an anti-prostitution activist has said that the "Super Bowl is a huge arena for sex trafficking--men are coming to the event to have sex with women, men and/or children." For the past several years in New Jersey, police agencies have been waging a losing battle against pimps who keep young prostitutes on drugs and in conditions of involuntary servitude.

      Early in 2013, the New Jersey legislature strengthened the state's human trafficking law. But in August of that year, a federal judge struck down the portion of the legislation that applied to criminalizing the placing of commercial sex ads online. According to the judge, that section of New Jersey's law conflicted with federal sex trafficking legislation. New Jersey's attorney general has appealed the federal ruling.

     In anticipation of this year's big game, New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman created a Super Bowl task force to deal with the expected wave of pimps and their sex slaves. Police officers assigned to Super Bowl detail are being trained to look for young women who seem frightened, or bear signs of physical abuse. Also receiving this training are hospitality workers and airport employees.

     The state is publishing public information ads profiling exploited sex trade victims, and law enforcement hotlines have been put into operation. It's doubtful, however, than these measures will make much of a dent in the annual Super Bowl sex business.

     

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