As Los Angeles prepares to host the Super Bowl, Sheriff Alex Villanueva reminded residents on Wednesday, January 12, that the event is a magnet for human trafficking.
Villanueva also highlighted January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
“It’s always a lead-up to the Super Bowl, one of the major events attracting human traffickers to the area,” the sheriff said. “Unfortunately, millions of people around the world are forced to endure this form of modern-day slavery. And they prey on the most vulnerable—those looking for opportunities in America, those without families, and unsuspecting people who may be lured online. ,
“Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking,” Villanueva said.
He urged residents, “if you see something, say something,” to report human trafficking to their local law enforcement agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security tip line 866-347-2423 or Crime Stoppers, 800- Asked to report on 222-Tips. (8477).
Southern California is already a hot spot for human trafficking, including sex trafficking, due to its large fledgling and homeless youth population and its proximity to international borders.
In recent years, the attitudes of local law enforcement agencies toward sex trafficking have shifted to prosecute those who try and provide assistance for victims.
Human trafficking can take many other forms, including forced labor, debt bondage and involuntary domestic slavery.
“And if you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking and is looking for support or services, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline… at 888-373-7888,” the sheriff said.
Several law enforcement agencies will tend to Los Angeles to ensure overall safety at the NFL Championship Game, and those efforts will include a focus on human trafficking.
The sheriff said the LASD will have 300 personnel working on the program in support of officers from the Inglewood Police Department.
The Department of Homeland Security has yet to release its plan for enforcement around the NFL’s biggest game of the year. Last year, when the Super Bowl was held in Tampa, Florida, more than 500 DHS personnel were employed to secure the site.
“Not only is the Super Bowl an attractive target for terrorists and domestic violent extremists, but it also presents opportunities for human trafficking, the sale of counterfeit goods and other criminal activities,” the department said in a statement in February 2021.
DHS’s efforts in 2021 to raise awareness of human trafficking included training Tampa airport staff and promoting resources through local restaurant and lodging associations.
According to a local Tampa ABC news affiliate, more than 70 people were arrested during an investigation into sexual abuse during Super Bowl week in 2021 in Tampa. Six people believed to be victims of human trafficking were “recovered”.