Feb. 7, 2012
BOSTON — As sports fans watched the Patriots-Giants Super Bowl in record numbers Sunday, Indianapolis police, taxi drivers and private security were keeping a close eye on venues where trafficking might take place, mainly hotels.
Police and the FBI say that a public event such as the Super Bowl, which brings in millions upon millions of dollars, also attracts organized sex trafficking rings. Anti-trafficking activists believe that an undetermined number of victims may have been transported to Indianapolis in advance of the Super Bowl. Some say the reports of underage trafficking is nothing more than urban myth. Still, police say it is important to be diligent given the general increase in human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad.
Days before the Super Bowl, Indiana's governor signed a bill making it easier to prosecute anyone who forces kids into the commercial sex trade. This weekend, Boston hosted a Human Trafficking Film Festival. The keynote speaker was Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., cochair of the Congressional human trafficking caucus. "I think it's an excellent idea. I look forward to reading the Indiana law and seeing if we can strengthen it to a federal law," she said.
Maloney praised Massachusetts for passing an anti-trafficking law last year, but said federal laws must be strengthened too. One bill she has in would empower the IRS to go after kingpins in the trafficking business. "We could never convict Al Capone," she said, "The way they finally got him was on the tax code. And I gotta believe that these pimps and traffickers aren't paying their taxes, and I think that would be a good way that we could raise the money for these victims and to try to help rehab them and give more resources to our prosecutors and police to combat this."
Two women who were arrested right before the Super Bowl on charges of prostitution told police that they had been coerced to work by a pimp. The report was directed to the FBI. Boston and national activists attending the trafficking film festival this year planned to announce a major public service campaign to make more Americans aware of the problem of sex trafficking that is often right in their midst.
Subscribe to WGBH News Emails