Organizers in East Rutherford, N.J. are hard at work trying to make preparations for the Super Bowl, which hits MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2. While much of the preparations involve security and logistics, local law enforcement is reportedly concerned about the huge gathering of people turning into an opportunity for rampant sex trafficking.
According to the Associated Press on Monday, U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), who is co-chairman of the House's anti-human trafficking caucus, says trafficking is a "huge problem" in his home state. The huge influx of people to the area and the game's close proximity to New York City (just across the Hudson) are said to be big causes for concern.
"The Super Bowl is a huge, huge arena for sex trafficking," anti-trafficking activist and self-identified trafficking survivor Danielle Douglas said. "[Some attendees] are coming to the Super Bowl not even to watch football - they are coming to the Super Bowl to have sex with women, and/or men or children."
Measures being taken by local law enforcement include training officers on how to spot signs of trafficking such as identifying people being held against their will. Hospitality workers, airport employees, truckers, churches, and even high school students will also be on the lookout.
New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said that by enlisting many people to look for warning signs, "a lot of eyes" will be on the activities of traffickers working to enlist that weekend.
Gov. Chris Christie signed anti-trafficking legislation last May aimed at eliminating advertisements for underage sex online, but a federal judge blocked it by ruling that it violates a federal law giving websites immunity from liability over what ads people post. The state is currently appealing the ruling.