Authorities said the Super Bowl and other big sporting events provide potentially lucrative opportunities for sex traffickers.
(Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)
High school students, teens as young as 13 and other children reported missing by their families were among 16 juveniles rescued from forced prostitution during Super Bowl festivities in and around New Jersey, the FBI said Tuesday.
Authorities arrested more than 45 pimps and their helpers, some of whom said they traveled to the New York region to traffic the women and juveniles at the NFL championship at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
The teens, ages 13 to 17, were found in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. More than 50 women coerced into sex for money were also saved, the agency said. Some of the victims had been involved in international sex trafficking.
Six children were rescued in both New Jersey and New York, and four others in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, the FBI said.
Social services, which included food, clothing and referrals to health care facilities, shelters,were provided to 70 women and juveniles.
The FBI and more than 50 other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies spent six months preparing for the two-week operation that recovered the victims. Hospitality workers, airport employees and others were trained to look for signs of sex trafficking, and New Jersey authorities put up billboards near the stadium as part of an anti-trafficking campaign, the Asbury Park Press noted.
"The FBI and our partners remain committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and putting those who try to profit from this type of criminal activity behind bars," said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division.
The number of prostitution-related arrests jumped in the week leading to Sunday's match-up between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.
New York police arrested a Florida mother Wednesday for allegedly traveling to Manhattan to prostitute her 15-year-old daughter.
Prosecutors are pursuing felony charges against 39-year-old Yolanda Ostoloza, of Hollywood, Fla., after her daughter agreed to have sex with an undercover officer for $200 in a midtown hotel. Her case was presented to a grand jury Tuesday, and an indictment could be returned Friday, the New York Daily News reported.
Her lawyer said that "at no time did she ever encourage or do anything ... that would promote that activity with her 15-year-old daughter."
She reportedly told police she thought her child "was just going to do the fetish stuff."
It wasn't clear whether her daughter was among the juveniles recovered in the FBI operation.
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