NEW YORK – The FBI, in partnership with more than 50 law enforcement agencies, recovered 16 juveniles during an enforcement action focused on commercial child sex trafficking. Additionally, more than 45 pimps and their associates were arrested, some of whom claimed to have traveled to New Jersey from other states specifically for the purpose of prostituting women and children at the Super Bowl.
“High-profile special events, which draw large crowds, have become lucrative opportunities for child prostitution criminal enterprises,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI and our partners remain committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and putting those who try to profit from this type of criminal activity behind bars.”
The minors recovered during the Super Bowl operations ranged in ages from 13 to 17 years old and included high school students and children who had been reported missing by their families.
Additionally, enforcement actions resulted in the recovery of international human trafficking victims.
Over the course of the operation, the FBI’s victim specialists provided 70 women and children services such as food, clothing, and referrals to health care facilities, shelters, and other programs.
Today’s announcement comes after more than six months of localized FBI-led law enforcement preparation. Working with a variety of federal, state, and local partners, the FBI has provided training on how to identify and address child exploitation.
“Through partnerships, enhanced as a result of this operation, we hope to build a lasting framework that helps the community address this problem,” said Michael Harpster, chief of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Section. “It’s easy to focus on this issue in light of a high-profile event, but the sad reality is, this is a problem we see every day in communities across the country.”
“The sexual exploitation of children promotes the practice of inducting innocent victims into a life of prostitution. This epidemic, which is spreading rapidly throughout the nation, not only traps children in a life of misery but helps facilitate the activities of other criminals with direct connections to human trafficking, organized crime, and the illegal movement of immigrants. The migratory nature of these crimes makes it critical for law enforcement entities to work together to tackle this widespread dilemma. On behalf of the FBI’s New York Field Office, I would like to thank our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners who played a leading role in this operation and directly contributed to its overall success,” said George Venizelos, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
The FBI’s Super Bowl operation efforts are part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to address the growing problem of child prostitution.
To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered more than 3,100 children. The investigations and subsequent 1,400 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 11 life terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.