The Super Bowl sex trafficking industry has received a lot of attention since 2011. In an interview with USA Today, Texas attorney general Greg Abbott made the now famous statement that, “the Super Bowl is the greatest show on Earth, but it also has an ugly underbelly. It’s commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.” That single comment has led to growing media attention towards the subject of sex trafficking and the Super Bowl.
New Jersey and New York police have been preparing for the expected increase of prostitution leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII. On Thursday, working together with the Organized Crime Task Force and the Department of Homeland Security, NYPD made 18 arrests in a sex trafficking ring. The ring is being accused of selling “party pack” to their customers in advance of this weekends festivities. What is a “party pack”? For the right price, customers could purchase a combination of cocaine and sex.
The sex trafficking ring was mainly targeting high end clients, willing to pay high dollar for the “party packs”. Based out of Manhattan, the suspects spent the last year pulling in financially well off business men through advertising on the Internet, public access television, and personal invitations. The special task force assigned to the sting had been watching them for the last year. Money was laundered from the ring through a variety of clothing and limousine companies.
Building a large clientele, the sex trafficking ring took the opportunity the week before the Super Bowl to send out a mass text message, “new sexy & beautiful girls R in town waiting for u”. New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said the bust was critical for the state of New York.
“Drug trafficking and prostitution are a scourge on communities across our state.”
While the bust is to be commended, the claim that sex trafficking actually increases during the Super Bowl has been hotly disputed. NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy has made a point over the last three years to reiterate the fact that there is no factual data to support the claim that sex trafficking increases in cities where the Super Bowl is played. In 2011, the Global Alliance Against Traffic In Women (GAATW) released a report refuting the claim that sex trafficking increases during sporting events like the Super Bowl.
Why would an organization against sex trafficking want to refute a claim like this? The main argument is that all of the media attention actually creates a political “posturing” where busts like the one on Thursday happen around the major sporting events, but the subject gets forgotten the rest of the year. So instead of bringing real change, politicians slap a band aid on this major issue.
Whether or not sex trafficking increases during the Super Bowl, it is the responsibility of Law Enforcement officials to continue cracking down on rings like the one in New York.