TAMPA (WFLA) – Super Bowls bring excitement, big personalities, and big money to town when the games are played. Experts on human trafficking say they also bring opportunities for the exploitation of vulnerable people.
“It can happen at any kind of big event where you are going to have a lot of men in one area away from their families,” said Micah Washinski with the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.
This year their organization is offering a simple message: “when you buy sex in the Tampa Bay area you are contributing to human trafficking,” said Washinski.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is also working to combat the problem. She says they are working to train Uber drivers and others to spot victims.
“Red flags to look out for include individuals displaying fear, anxiousness, paranoia or a reluctance to discuss injuries. Physical injuries including burns, branding, tattoos or other marks,” said Moody in a video posted online.
Micah Washinski says they are now also using new tools online to combat human traffickers.
“Our Super Bowl initiative this year is to use the technology is to deter the sex buyers from coming to Tampa and buying sex and exploiting our children and vulnerable adults,” said Washinski.
The Tampa Police Department is also stepping up its efforts to catch human traffickers.
“We speak to certain individuals, we find out where they are online and then we also investigate these online profiles to see what signs we can see when it comes to exploitation,” said Detective Andrea Hughes with the Tampa Police Department.