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Officials urge heightened human trafficking awareness during Super Bowl

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 1:25 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As many of us are gearing up for Super Bowl Sunday, some experts are urging the public to be on heightened alert for human trafficking this week ahead of the big game.

Some officials worry any big event that attracts large crowds, out-of-town visitors and big spenders is a natural target for traffickers. During Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta two years ago, the FBI arrested 169 people, including 26 traffickers. They also identified 18 victims.

Officials across the country have been taking additional steps, such as teaching truck drivers and hotel staffers how to spot and report suspicious activity. U.S. Attorney for Vermont Christina Nolan says it’s unlikely that any trafficking will happen in Vermont because of its distance from Tampa, Florida, but she’s urging people to be extra alert of any suspicious travel.

WCAX News also spoke with two local human trafficking experts. They say while it’s good that the Super Bowl heightens public awareness, it’s important to acknowledge that human trafficking happens every day, everywhere. They say there’s no evidence to support a spike in trafficking during the Super Bowl, and certain variables, such as heightened awareness and increased law enforcement presence, lead to more reporting, but not necessarily an increase in trafficking activity.

If you do see anything suspicious, you are always urged to contact your local authorities to report it.

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