Super Bowl sex trafficking draws attention to local issue

Super Bowl sex trafficking draws attention to local issue

Sunday’s Super Bowl drew hundreds of thousands of people to the Houston area. According to experts, major attractions and sporting events, such as the Super Bowl often lead to an increase of sex trafficking.

In 2015 the FBI made hundreds of arrests in a six-month operation leading up to the Super Bowl in Arizona.

Unfortunately, though, human trafficking is not a crime that’s reserved for big cities or big events.
Local authorities believe it’s a real problem in the Madison area too.

Human trafficking is not a new problem, but as with many other things the internet has made it easier than ever before.

“It’s very easy for a trafficker to find victims and then to find people that want to be with the victim,” Det. Roger Baker, of the Madison Police Department, said.

Baker said because of the internet, he is seeing many more cases of human trafficking locally.

“It’s a problem in the Madison area,” Baker said.

Baker dealt with nine human trafficking cases last year. As a whole, the Madison Police Department handled less than 100 incidents in 2016, but Baker suspects that only scratches the surface.

“Sometimes we start with one victim and when we start to uncover the electronic evidence we realize it’s much larger than we thought and it might be six or seven victims,” he said.

Without a designated task force, Madison police officers need residents to be their eyes and ears and spot human trafficking. Baker said it tends to happen at places like bus transfer points, motels and bus stops. He said most of the women are in their teens and with an older male.

Basker said to look for these indicators that human trafficking may be taking place.

“If someone tries to talk with them, the older person with them, that may be their trafficker, may interrupt them and talk for them. They may appear tired and fatigued. They may be suffering from substance abuse or mental or physical abuse,” he said.

Baker said as more people are able to recognize the signs of human trafficking, the closer we’ll be to ending human trafficking for good.

Starting next month the Madison Police Department will hold classes to better train all officers on how to spot human trafficking.