Federal authorities rescued 16 children, ages 13 to 17 years, during a Super Bowl sex trade sting operation to stop child trafficking, arresting 45 pimps and their associates, an FBI release said Tuesday
The children included teens who were high school students and had been reported missing by their families, as well as international human trafficking victims, the release said. During the operation, the FBI’s victim specialists provided 70 women and children with services, including food, clothing, and referrals to shelters and other programs.
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The FBI reported that some of the pimps and their associates said they traveled to New Jersey to prostitute women and children at the Super Bowl.
The sting was set up for six months before the Super Bowl, the release said.
“High-profile special events, which draw large crowds, have become lucrative opportunities for child prostitution criminal enterprises,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in the release. “The FBI and our partners remain committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and putting those who try to profit from this type of criminal activity behind bars.”
The FBI partnered with other law enforcement agencies across the country to train on identifying and addressing child exploitation.
“Through partnerships, enhanced as a result of this operation, we hope to build a lasting framework that helps the community address this problem,” said Michael Harpster, chief of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Section, in the release. “It’s easy to focus on this issue in light of a high-profile event, but the sad reality is, this is a problem we see every day in communities across the country.”
The FBI’s Super Bowl operation efforts are part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative established in 2003. To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 3,100 children, the release said.
FBI efforts at the Super Bowl included contacting more than 20 area hotels about how to identify sex trafficking victims, Fox News said
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