(WNN) New York, UNITED STATES, AMERICAS: In an incredible crime sting operation coordinated by the U.S. FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation has rescued 16 juveniles and 70 women from sex-traffickers who were hoping to cash-in big during the Super Bowl event at the MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
During the recent two week operation that tracked human trafficker’s activities in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida and other regions The FBI worked with more than 50 separate law enforcement agencies where more than 45 pimps and their trafficking associates were arrested in the sting.
Some of those arrested have already claimed to The FBI that they in fact did travel from other U.S. states to New Jersey specifically for the purpose of “prostituting women and children at the Super Bowl,” conveyed The FBI in a release to the press on Tuesday February 4.
Less than one week before the Super Bowl event on Monday January 27 members of the U.S. Congress met in the House of Representatives with a standing-only crowd to discuss the dangers of large sporting events and forced prostitution.
“We know that from the past, any sports venue – especially the Super Bowl – acts as a sex-trafficking magnet,” said Republican Congressional Representative Christopher H. Smith from New Jersey.
The Super Bowl this year was watched by more people than ever, says U.S. TV rating reports. Those watching the event on mobile devices and/or television numbered up to 111.5 million. According to the count made by officials who were there at the MetLife stadium, those in attendance in person at the football game numbered 82,529, an amount of people that would be of great interest to those merchandising the sale of women and children.
The NFL – National Football League also has been working with law enforcement agencies in efforts to reduce sex-trafficking and forced prostitution exploitation during the days surrounding the sports event.
“As part of our ongoing efforts, the NFL has been meeting on this matter and many other security-related issues daily with federal, state and local law enforcement officials,” Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications for the NFL, said in an email.
Underage children who were recovered in the joint FBI and law enforcement agencies sting ranged in age from 13 to 17 years old. Many of the children did include high school students, including runaways who’s families had previously reported them as ‘missing’ to the police. Not all the children were from the U.S. however. Some of the exploited children had been imported into the U.S. through international trafficking players, conveyed The FBI.
“I grew up in a family of domestic violence and I ran away,” said Congressman Dave Reichert, a Republican from the State of Washington, during the recent Congressional meeting highlighting the problem of sex-trafficking inside the U.S. “I understand why young women and men run away from home.”
All those who were rescued in the sting are receiving any needed immediate health care, food, clothing and/or shelter through coordinated efforts with partners, including the Polaris Project, outlined The FBI.
“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,” said FBI special agent Aaron Ford, in charge of the Newark, New Jersey field office for The FBI.
“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.
To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 3,100 children. The investigations and subsequent 1,400 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 11 life terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets. One arrest that occurred only one week before the 2014 football championship was made by The FBI as one Florida woman allegedly attempted to prostitute her 15 year old daughter.
The FBI’s Super Bowl operation efforts are part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by The FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to address the growing problem of forced child prostitution.
Rescue efforts and arrests that were made during the sting operation also included specific coordination with the Attorney General’s Offices for the U.S. State of New Jersey as well as the State of New York, among other partners.
“The sexual exploitation of children promotes the practice of inducting innocent victims into a life of prostitution. This epidemic, which is spreading rapidly throughout the nation, not only traps children in a life of misery but helps facilitate the activities of other criminals with direct connections to human trafficking, organized crime, and the illegal movement of immigrants. The migratory nature of these crimes makes it critical for law enforcement entities to work together to tackle this widespread dilemma. On behalf of the FBI’s New York Field Office, I would like to thank our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners who played a leading role in this operation and directly contributed to its overall success,” said George Venizelos, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
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