New York's attorney general announced charges yesterday against 18 people for allegedly peddling “party packs” of cocaine and prostitutes – often aimed at wealthy out-of-town visitors, including people coming to Sunday's Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J., the Christian Science Monitor reports. It was the culmination of an 11-month investigation, and the attorney general's office says it's still looking into whether human trafficking was involved. Advocates for preventing sex trafficking and labor trafficking say the lead-up to major sports events around the world is a ripe time for educating people about these often-hidden crimes.
There are disputes about whether sex trafficking spikes in advance of events such as the Super Bowl. Anti-trafficking organizations say it would be difficult to document such a trend. Still, efforts often are launched to boost the training of hotel and transportation workers as well as law enforcement officers – and to reach out with messages to potential customers and victims of the sex trade. Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ) may have played into the hands of skeptics who believe the sex trafficking problem is overstated when linked to the Super Bowl. He said, “The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that more than 10,000 exploited women and girls were trafficked to Miami for the Super Bowl in 2010.” The center said it had been misquoted. “No one knows with certainty the exact number of children exploited through sex trafficking in the United States or during events like the Super Bowl,” said Staca Shehan, who supervises the center's Child Sex Trafficking Team.