‘Are you being sold for sex?’: Police launch huge operation to stop Super Bowl sex trafficking with new chat bot to catch pedophiles and poster campaign on school buses
- Law enforcement to crackdown on child sex trafficking in build up to Super Bowl
- FBI, ICE, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Fulton County Sheriff on patrol
- Super Bowl LIII to be held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in Georgia
- State sees 300 children sold for sex a month and 7,200 men pay for child sex
- Super Bowl will ‘super-size’ risk to children says Atlanta schools superintendent
Federal agencies and police are cracking down on sex traffickers in the build-up to this year’s Super Bowl with a new chat bot to snare pedophiles and posters on the side of school buses.
Authorities in Atlanta, Georgia, which will host Super Bowl LIII in just over two weeks’ time, are on high alert to tackle human trafficking and exploration of children.
FBI, ICE, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fulton County Sheriff will be out in force in the ten days leading up to the big game with raids and undercover stings as part of the crackdown.
In particular the state’s school system has been ramping up efforts to train teachers and inform students about the risk of human trafficking.
Earlier this month 72 school buses traveled from Atlantic Station to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the big game will the played on February 3, with messages warning about the dangers of child sex trafficking.
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, will be the setting for Super Bowl LIII on February 3. Authorities are worried the big game will increase the risk of sex trafficking
Organizers said 300 children are sold for sex every month in Georgia and 7,200 men each month pay for sex with a child.
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, said students are in danger of being sexually exploited every day and the Super Bowl ‘super-sized’ the risk of child sex trafficking.
She told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: ‘These events create horrible opportunities for traffickers, for commercial sex and human exploitation, and they certainly take advantage of vulnerable teens and children who go to our schools.
‘We have schools all right up in there, and if they didn’t have enough drama in the regular day this is going to super-size their exposure.’
Carstarphen pointed to a study showing 90 per cent of child sex trafficking victims in Georgia were enrolled in school at the time of their exploitation.
Teachers, nurses, social workers and other school staff are also being told to remain vigilant for the tell-tale signs students could be in danger of becoming victims of traffickers.
Atlanta leaders, police and federal officials have been discussing public safety plans ahead of the Super Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz stadium
Last month a chat bot called ‘Gracie’ was launched by authorities posing as a minor available for sex online to intercept conversations with potential offenders.
Bob Rodgers president and CEO of Street Grace, the organization behind the initiative, said sex trafficking is already a problem in the state and it is not being caused by the Super Bowl.
He told Patch: ‘The Super Bowl doesn’t cause sex trafficking. Conferences and conventions, like so many we have in Atlanta, don’t cause sex trafficking.
‘It is already occurring in every metro Atlanta county and it will still be happening when the Super Bowl leaves.
‘The Super Bowl brings millions of people into the city and sex trafficking will ebb and flow with the event, just like business at restaurants, bars and adult establishments.’
Law enforcement will be out in force in the build up to the big game with raids and undercover stings. Pictured in Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh leaving the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last month
It was also announced today Atlanta airport will be ready to field the tens of thousands of additional visitors expected for the Super Bowl in two weeks, despite the ongoing U.S. government shutdown, which has left critical airport personnel unpaid.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), already the world’s busiest, expects to see an additional 125,000 passengers ahead of the game and is bringing in reinforcements to meet the additional numbers.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the federal agency responsible for airport security screening, had committed additional resources for the Super Bowl, before the government shutdown, which entered its 25th day yesterday.