Bay Area’s plan to combat sex-trafficking at Super Bowl


Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Elizabeth Avalos,

While the debate continues on whether the Super Bowl generates enough revenue to outweigh the costs for hosting cities, the sex-trafficking industry sees dollar signs without need for deliberation.

For football fans all across the nation, the Super Bowl is the most anticipated sporting event of the NFL season. For sex-traffickers, the Super Bowl brings substantial money-making opportunities every year; according to the FBI, anytime there’s a big event, human-trafficking skyrockets.

With Super Bowl 50 set to take place at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Bay Area law enforcement and non-profit organizations have been rallying to raise sex-trafficking awareness and attempts to eliminate it are underway.

Under the leadership of the FBI, Bay Area local police, sheriff’s departments and federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, have created a multi-county workgroup called “No Traffick Ahead.”

“No Traffick Ahead” has been meeting since May 2014 in anticipation of the 2016 Super Bowl, according to Brian Wo, director of partnerships for the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition.

Wo explained that NTA was put together so that when the FBI and local law enforcement rescue the men and women being trafficked, they have the resources to feel safe, like clothes, shelter and medical care.

Police departments and law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area are implementing a softer “victim-centered” approach to help rescue sex-trafficking victims in all Bay Area cities in the run-up to the game.

For the safety of victims, further specific details about this approach have been maintained private.

“As far as the general public is concerned, law enforcement is not going to give a lot of details about who is doing what,” Wo explained.

While the FBI and law enforcement groups are at the forefront of these anti-trafficking efforts, the involvement of non-profit groups is crucial to the success of the operations that will be taking place, according to Wo.

The FBI is relying on non-profit organizations and outreach groups to provide survivors with their services and assistance right away.

Some of the major agencies that NTA has works with include the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, Alameda County HEAT Watch, Coalition to End Human Trafficking in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties and South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking.

According to KTVU News, all major Bay Area airports including San Jose, Oakland and SFO, have held sex-trafficking awareness training that will help aid all airport and airline personnel in identifying victims who fit the profile of either a sex-trafficker or a sex-slave.

The airport trainings that have taken place have been devised to help rescue girls and women who are being flown into the Bay Area, and help detain their perpetrators.

CBS News reported that anti-trafficking advocates appear certain that sex-traffickers are not looking to recruit more girls and women in Bay Area cities, but will instead be relocating their workers into the Bay Area for the Feb. 7 event.

“While we don’t know how much the trafficking is going to go up, we can get more eyes and ears on the ground so that they can potentially spot situations of trafficking,” Wo explained.

According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 10,000 prostitutes, most of them underage, were brought to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.

In 2015 alone, the FBI reported the arrests of 360 buyers and 68 traffickers, in addition to the rescue of 30 juvenile victims throughout the course of a six-month operation, leading up the 2015 Super Bowl.

This year, the FBI is counting on the involvement of non-profit groups to help rescue more trafficking victims and conduct more trafficker arrests.