The Super Bowl and sex trade

Super Bowl 50: Home of the largest sex-trafficking event in the country. For the past several years, cities that host the Super Bowl have launched major campaigns against human trafficking in the days before the big event. The attention is largely due to a persistent claim that the Super Bowl is the largest sex trafficking event in the country. Sporting events in general, perhaps because of the population they draw (men flush with cash), are believed to lead to a spike in human trafficking. Over 10,000 “prostitutes,” many of whom were trafficking victims, were brought into Miami for the Super Bowl in 2010, and during the Dallas Super Bowl in 2011, there were 133 arrests for sex with minors.

This year, Super Bowl 50 will take place in Santa Clara, California.  The Bay Area is already a hot bed for sex-trafficking.  The FBI has identified the Bay Area as one of the top 13 areas in the country for child sex trafficking. In the last several years, a local FBI task force has recovered more than 300 girls being sold for sex.

A high-profile example of the Super Bowl and prostitution going hand-in-hand was the arrest of Warren Sapp, a Hall of Famer. The former Buccaneer and Oakland Raider was busted in a hotel during last year’s Super Bowl in Phoenix and eventually pleading guilty to two misdemeanors. Sapp allegedly offered two women $300 each to come up to his hotel room. That same year, at least 570 would-be sex buyers (or johns) and 23 so-called sex traffickers were taken into custody on charges of pimping, trafficking or promoting prostitution during the super bowl.

Most recently, a member of the Denver Broncos practice squad was sent home from the team’s preparations for Super Bowl 50 late Tuesday after he was questioned by police in connection with a prostitution sting. The Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Ryan Murphy was briefly detained in connection with the sting at a Motel 6 near the San Jose International Airport. Spokesman Sgt. Jensen said that Murphy was later released after it was determined that he was not involved.

While several task forces are in place to prevent this influx of human trafficking, the crime is so hidden it is difficult to track and find those in charge. Perhaps the NFL should participate in the efforts and impose greater fines on players who participate in these types of activities. While the impact of that may not be significant, it’s a step forward, and less money in the pockets of traffickers.

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