After six months of planning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested more than 45 people, along with various associates, during a two-week sting operation involving prostitution. During the Super Bowl sting operation, 16 minors were rescued from underage prostitution in and around the New York and New Jersey areas. Some of the alleged “pimps” admitted to importing child prostitutes for the big game.
The 16 juveniles range in age from 13 to 17 years old. Six children were found in New York, six in New Jersey and four more in New Haven Connecticut. It was discovered many of the children rescued were reported missing by their families. The FBI also rescued more than 50 women from forced prostitution during the two-week sting. Many of the victims were brought to the area specifically for the Super Bowl. Several of the victims were from other countries, and had been involved in international sex trafficking.
According to the FBI, prostitution related incidents have increased in the weeks leading up to the big game. The FBI enlisted more than 50 agencies including state, local and federal law enforcement. A billboard near MetLife Stadium regarding prostitution was put up by New Jersey authorities as part of a anti-trafficking campaign. Airport and hospitality workers had also been trained in the weeks prior in an effort to recognize suspicious behavior.
The alleged pimps were not the only ones to import child prostitutes for last Sunday’s Super Bowl. Just prior to the big event, a woman from Hollywood, Florida was arrested in connection with soliciting her 15-year old daughter to an undercover cop. Reports state the mother traveled to the New York area specifically to get in on the Super Bowl prostitution action. Police reports say the alleged mom pimp said she thought her daughter, “was just going to do the fetish stuff.” Felony charges are being sought against the Florida woman.
In an effort to provide long-term help for the more than 70 child and adult victims forced into prostitution, social services have been provided. Some of the services provided include, shelters, food, clothing an referrals to heath care facilities. According to the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Newark field office, Aaron Ford, “The FBI and its partners remain committed to the identification and rescue of minor victims, and to hold accountable those who exploit children for financial gain.”
The FBI’s Super Bowl sting was part of a larger initiative against forced underage prostitution. In 2003, the Innocence Lost Initiative was established as a measure to eradicate the use of child prostitutes like those imported for the game. Since its inception the initiative has rescued more than 3,100 children. The initiative related operations have seized more than $3.1 million in assets alone. The 1,400 convictions associated include 11 life term convictions.
There is a growing concern amongst authorities regarding the importation of child and adult prostitutes. The Super Bowl is not the only highly publicized sporting event to create a lucrative market for these illegal activities. With the increase in people and money these games provide in specific areas, pimps are considering these events to be the perfect opportunity for their illegal operations.
By Shannon Malone