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ATLANTA – Law enforcement officers apprehended 169 persons related to sex trafficking activities ahead of Super Bowl LIII, highlighting an issue that experts are calling a “public health issue.”
More than 25 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as seven non-government organizations cooperated together to apprehend traffickers, according to an FBI announcement Tuesday. Law enforcement made 169 arrests between Jan. 23 and Feb. 2, according to the FBI.
Twenty-six of those arrests were of traffickers and 34 of individuals attempting to engage in sex acts with minors, according to the announcement. Nine adult and nine minor victims of trafficking were saved, according to the report.
Roughly 100,000 children, most ages 12 to 14 are trafficked every day, according to the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT).
Last week’s arrest of seven adults on charges that they kept two boys prisoner in a St. Petersburg mobile home serves as a warning that predators are using popular gaming platforms such as Fortnite and Minecraft to lure in children. #usiaht— USIAHT (@USIAHT1) January 22, 2019
Older “Romeo” groomers are trained to prey on runaways and children who are forced to have “survival sex” in order to stay off the streets, USIAHT co-founders Geoffrey Rogers and Kevin Malone told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a January interview. Roughly 70 percent of sex trafficking victims are in or have been in the foster care system, according to Rogers.
Gangs, including MS-13, are major players in the sex trafficking market, according to Rogers.
“This is a public health issue,” Rogers told TheDCNF.
Law enforcement conducted their operation in the week leading up to Super Bowl, during which trafficking activities typically increase. “Sex trafficking is a supply answer to a demand problem. … And this goes for all major sporting events, including the Super Bowl,” Rogers told TheDCNF in a Thursday email. “While we see a significantly increased level of media attention on sex trafficking surrounding the Super Bowl, we know all major sporting events are hubs for sex trafficking.”
“Continued focus on fighting the demand for purchased sex at these events is crucial to stopping sex trafficking at them,” Rogers said.
Pornography is the leading cause of human sex trafficking, according to the institute. Psychologists have described the effect of porn on the brain as “toxic.”
The New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13 to 3 in Sunday’s game.
President Donald Trump also addressed the egregiousness of human trafficking that continues to occur in the U.S. at the 67th National Prayer Breakfast Thursday.