A typical Super Bowl 50 video contains huge players, big hits, and flashy lights. This video is more red light than NFL. In the dark shadow cast by Levi Stadium, human trafficking was taking place, with police targeting kidnappings, prostitutes, and pimping. The most high-profile case was the Denver Broncos’ Ryan Murphy, who was detained in a prostitution sting before the 2016 Super Bowl ever took place.
The Super Bowl’s human trafficking connection is so well known that the FBI was preparing for 14 months ahead of the big game. According to NBC News, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bertram Fairries said federal, state, and local law enforcement officials worked together to crack down on sex trafficking during the 2016 Super Bowl.
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The FBI agent shared some of the results based upon the human trafficking crackdown.
- He said 12 pimps, including two females, were arrested.
- Investigators made contact with 129 prostitutes. Most were not arrested but were offered services to help get them out of “the life.”
- They also busted 85 people for soliciting sex.
- Seven juveniles were rescued from sex traffickers and pimps by law enforcement during the weeks before the Super Bowl.
Fairries is especially happy about saving the lives of the young prostitutes. The reason the FBI was so effective this year is because they set up the HTOC (Human Trafficking Operations Center) in order to coordinate efforts. Local police and investigators in various agencies were able to share information, tips, and leads in order to be more effective in catching the criminals.
“In some of the Internet sites and blogs we monitored communications between traffickers and or ‘johns’ who actually noted, ‘I’m not operating this week’. I’m noticing increased law enforcement activities and I’m just not going to operate this week,” said Farries. “The plan we put together, specifically the press and working with the media, I think paid off. It made a significant impact.”
Sharan Dhanoa is the coordinator of the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking, and she says the most important accomplishment in stopping the Super Bowl sex trafficking was the “focus on victims and a willingness by law enforcement to take advocates and service providers with them on raids and operations.” Agent Fairries says the lessons learned at Levi Stadium were mostly about communication and cooperation.
Ryan Murphy Caught With A Pimp
One method used to catch the pimps or “johns” was for the police and FBI to post their own prostitute ads on various websites.
“We have seen an increase in ads both on women looking to seek men that want prostitution and men seeking women for prostitution acts,” Santa Clara County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. James Jensen said, according to NBC.
According to KOIN, one unexpected catch in the in the police’s net was the Denver Broncos’ Ryan Murphy. The player is part of the practice squad, and during a sting operation prior to Super Bowl 50, he was a found in a vehicle alongside a pimp. Murphy tried to claim the man was his brother, which was not true. The pimp was cited for the crime and the suspected prostitute was referred to a victim’s program.
Denver Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak released the following statement in response to the incident.
“Although practice squad safety Ryan Murphy was not cited by police, we decided it was best for the team if we continued our preparations for Super Bowl 50 without him. Ryan is returning to Denver but his status as a practice squad player has not changed at this time,” said Kubiak, according to KOIN. “Obviously disappointed for the young man, but we’re focused on what we have to do football-wise and we’re going to work this morning in our meetings and getting into our routine.”
As of this publishing, the Denver Broncos player has not been arrested or cited with any crime, although he was handcuffed and escorted away by police.
[Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images]