Human Trafficking at Large Sporting Events

Feb 7, 2023

As the world gathers to celebrate in the excitement of large sporting events, like the Super Bowl, it’s important to shed light on the heinous crime of human trafficking that often goes unnoticed. Despite the festive atmosphere, these events attract individuals who seek to exploit the vulnerable for their own gain. While it’s known that large sporting events attract many tourists, money, and job opportunities, it also creates a breeding ground for traffickers to engage in labor and sexual exploitation.

By raising awareness and understanding the connection between human trafficking and large sporting events, we can all play a role in ending this crime and keeping people safe. Discover the truth behind the scenes and learn how to stay informed and vigilant in the fight against human trafficking.


What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that involves the exploitation of adults and children for labor or commercial sex by means of force, fraud, or coercion. It is a serious global issue that affects millions of innocent adults and children, who are often lured by false promises and/or threats of employment opportunities, manipulation, romantic relationships, or even violence. Human trafficking is a violation of basic human rights and a serious crime that requires a collective effort to end.


Human Trafficking Stats

As shocking as they may be, the statistics on human trafficking are a harsh reminder of the unseen reality faced by millions of individuals globally. This issue is not just a problem confined to the movies, but a disturbing issue that is present in our own neighborhoods, our communities, and even at our largest sporting events. It is essential to bring this issue to light and work towards eradicating it.


Tackling Human Trafficking at Super Bowl LVII

The Super Bowl, one of America’s most eagerly anticipated events, is unfortunately also a major hub for human trafficking. During Super Bowl LI, a successful sting operation led by Special Agent Jimenez uncovered the disturbing truth that these trafficking operations were often controlled by a single pimp who would travel from major cities to the host city of the Super Bowl. The majority of the victims were children, both male and female, ranging from the ages of 13 to 16.

Since then, law enforcement agencies have joined forces with non-profit organizations to raise awareness and prevent human trafficking. A wide range of businesses and industries, including hotels, motels, rest stops, massage parlors, adult entertainment clubs, bars, modeling agencies, and even retailers, have received training on human trafficking education and prevention. Employees are equipped with the tools to recognize red flags, report suspicious behavior to the authorities, and provide access to the trafficking hotline through phone number stickers placed in private locations such as bathrooms. These efforts aim to curb the trend of human trafficking during the Super Bowl and beyond.

Listed below are some companies and organizations that have partnered with It’s a Penalty that are doing their part in sharing useful information about human trafficking to educate the public and provide resources for victims this Super Bowl.

  • American Airlines will showcase the It’s a Penalty campaign video in its lounges, on flights, and on its website.
  • Southwest Airlines will also screen the It’s a Penalty campaign video on their flights throughout February. Additionally, they will have the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888, posted in its airplane lavatories.
  • Airbnb ensures the safety of its guests by requiring U.S. customers to undergo identity verification and criminal background checks before booking. Additionally, the company provides a 24/7 safety hotline on its website and has partnered with local law enforcement teams in Maricopa County.
  • It’s a Penalty partnered with a local human trafficking organization, Where Hope Lives, to offer local support for survivors.
  • Hilton, Motel 6, and IHG helped raise awareness by showing the It’s a Penalty campaign video to hotel guests and employees, educating them on how to identify and report suspected trafficking.


Red Flags to Look Out For

The fight against human trafficking involves a collective effort from law enforcement agencies, organizations, and nonprofits. However, the general public can also play a crucial role in putting an end to trafficking. By recognizing the red flags associated with trafficking, we can help identify potential victims and guide them towards safety with the support of law enforcement. Together, we can work towards a world free from the injustices of human trafficking. Here are some red flags to look out for when identifying potential human trafficking victims:

  • Signs of physical or sexual abuse such as bruises, scars, or malnutrition.
  • Lack of control over personal identification documents, such as a passport or ID.
  • Exhibits poor mental health or behavior.
  • Fearful, anxious, submissive, or agitated behavior, especially in the presence of their supposed “employer.”
  • Working extremely long hours, with little or no pay.
  • Poor eye contact.
  • Lack of control over their own schedule, finances, or movements.
  • Does not know where they are staying and may claim to be visiting.
  • Being unable to leave their job or leave the country.
  • Not having access to medical care or appearing to have untreated injuries.
  • Little to no personal possessions.
  • An inability to explain their circumstances in detail or inconsistencies in story.

It’s important to keep in mind that these red flags do not always indicate trafficking, but they may warrant further investigation or a call to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.


Putting an End to Trafficking at the Super Bowl: Final Thoughts

The problem of human trafficking at the Super Bowl is a serious concern that requires a coordinated effort from law enforcement, non-profit organizations, and the public. The red flags and ongoing efforts discussed in this blog provide a glimpse into the complex issue of human trafficking and the steps being taken to prevent it.

The Super Bowl is a high-profile event that attracts a large number of people, making it a prime target for traffickers. However, by working together, we can raise awareness, educate the public, and create a safer environment for everyone. Let us all do our part in ending human trafficking and supporting its victims.


Extra Resources:


Bridging Freedom | Restoring Stolen Childhoods

Based in Tampa, FL, Bridging Freedom has a Florida focus, but a national reach and impact. At Bridging Freedom, we aim to combat domestic minor sex trafficking through our restoration programs for rescued victims by providing therapeutic safe homes for victims. The mission of Bridging Freedom is to combat Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking by bringing restoration to those who are rescued and prevention to those we reach with our educational programs. Bridging Freedom is a non-profit organization that relies on donations from individual donors and grants from government organizations If you would like to be a part of our group of supporters, you can donate at the page here.

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