Police in Arizona have announced that an operation targeting human trafficking and sex crimes around the time of the Super Bowl and other high profile events netted hundreds of arrests.
Phoenix police said in a press release that officers from multiple law enforcement agencies took part in an operation between Jan. 30 and Feb. 11 in the Phoenix area that resulted in nearly 350 arrests, 48 of them for felony crimes, as part of a sex trafficking and prostitution crackdown.
Super Bowl LVII, the WM Phoenix Open and the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction all took place around that time period.
“These events draw large crowds of people, many of them from outside of the state, and large events can create a bigger market for human trafficking and prostitution related activities,” police said, “Over 100 law enforcement officers from state, local and federal agencies worked daily to address the issue of human trafficking in the Valley.”
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The operation specifically targeted adults who attempted to pay minors for sex, online predators, street prostitutes and sex buyers, police said.
“The priority of these operations was to identify and recover juveniles or adult victims of human trafficking as it relates to fraud, force or coercion as well as to provide victim outreach,” the department explained.
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In addition to the 48 felony arrests, 300 of the arrests were misdemeanor crimes, and 120 of those were said to be arrests of people looking to pay for sex.
Police were also able to recover five juveniles and one adult and also said that seven guns were seized.
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“Those who were identified as potential traffickers as a result of these operations are being further investigated by either state, local and/or federal agencies,” police said.