Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to descend on East Rutherford, New Jersey, ahead of the February 2 Super Bowl. And that’s why some organizations and individuals are particularly concerned about a rise in human trafficking during the event.
“One Super Bowl after another after another has shown itself to be one of the largest events in the world where the cruelty of human trafficking goes on for several weeks,” says Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., co-chairman of the House anti-human trafficking caucus.
The Polaris Project, a nonprofit group that works to fight human trafficking, received 20,652 calls reporting trafficking to its hotline in 2012, according to CEO Bradley Myles. Of those calls, 330 came from New Jersey.
“The overall size of the phenomenon in the United States is much more significant than statistics show,” Myles reports.
Soon after the announcement that the 2014 Super Bowl would be held in New Jersey, state officials went to work, setting up training sessions for law enforcement officials, hospital employees, hotel personnel, airport employees and many others who would have an up-close look at fan activity during the event.
“We've enlisted, basically, every service provider that people coming to the Super Bowl are going to run into,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman says. “There are a lot of eyes that are going to be on their activities and going to be on spotting potential victims of this crime.”