Super Bowl sex trafficking stings a success, experts say
Phoenix, AZ — Countless law enforcement agencies banded together to combat sex trafficking here ahead of the Super Bowl. So was it a good use of resources? A city of Phoenix human trafficking task force will convene Tuesday to go over some findings.
Shane Rabindranath with the Phoenix Dream Center said they ramped up their sex trafficking outreach efforts in the 10 days before the Super Bowl, enlisting the help of nearly 350 volunteers from around the world, contacting 2,600 women on the street.
“Twenty-two were actually put in an emergency housing shelter that we were having,” Rabindranath said.
Sixteen minors were also reported to law enforcement to get them out of that life.
“It’s happening in Chandler, in Gilbert, in Mesa, it’s happening all over the Valley and it’s not just the Super Bowl,” Rabindranath said.
Twenty-two ‘Johns’ were arrested in Phoenix in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, thanks to a multi-state sting led by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois.
“We heard, ‘can I have you for the Super Bowl?’ We heard that here and in other cities,” said Dominique Roe-Sepowitz with ASU’s school of social work.
She and her team placed ads on backpage.com and said their research over the Super Bowl shows Phoenix is a larger buyer’s market than they thought, and the solution is more complex than sending ‘Johns’ to jail right away.
“We know that anywhere that money and men combine and opportunity to buy sex, the people will do that, so how do we change that is really the question,” Roe-Sepowitz said.
The city’s human trafficking task force will de-brief Tuesday morning, followed by the governor’s task force on Wednesday. Both are open to the public. Roe-Sepowitz said next week she will be officially releasing details from their Super Bowl study.