Human trafficking increase expected during Super Bowl

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Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson, left, speaks with Ray Martinez, executive director of the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee, during a meeting between law enforcement officials and hotel groups to announce a campaign to prevent human trafficking surrounding next month's Super Bowl football game in the Miami area, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI BEACH, FL – To combat an expected rise in sex trafficking during the Super Bowl, law enforcement officials said Thursday that they need hotel workers, ride-hailing service drivers and security personnel to be especially alert.

These are the people most likely to encounter the victims and perpetrators of trafficking — and would be able to provide authorities with tips and evidence of the crime taking place, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said at the “No Room for Trafficking” conference, held at the Fontainebleau Hotel.

The people most likely to be enslaved for sex work are young girls, officials said. They noted that major events such as the Feb. 2 Super Bowl, with all its attendant parties, are ripe for human and sex trafficking.

“We're enlisting people to help law enforcement,” said Moody, who chairs a statewide task force on human trafficking. “Most of the cases begin with anonymous tips. That's how we'll catch these guys.”

The hospitality industry is taking notice. Cecil Staton, president and CEO of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, said it's bad business for people who run hotels to allow human trafficking.

“No honest hotelier wants human trafficking on their property. We are all about collaboration,” Staton said.

Mary Rogers, vice president and general manager at the Fontainebleau, said all of the hotel's employees receive regular training on possible signs of human trafficking : rooms where people come and go at all hours, cash payments and young women who never leave their rooms.

“We just encourage everyone to report anything they see that looks suspicious,” Rogers said. “We really, really encourage that culture.”