MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Intense efforts by law enforcement to stop human trafficking during Super Bowl 54 in Miami have paid off.
New figures released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office on Thursday reveal local, state and federal law enforcement officials recovered 20 suspected human trafficking victims.
Of those twenty victims, four were from Miami-Dade or Broward County; sixteen were from other states and four foreign countries.
The two from Miami were only 15 and 17 years old.
“Trafficking survivors and other experts had previously warned us that our community would attract human traffickers that look to take advantage of the economic impact and influx of visitors produced by the Super Bowl itself,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Five human trafficking charges were filed against suspects, three as federal crimes and two as violations of Florida law.
Additionally, eight buyers, or “Johns”, were arrested, and 34 accomplices or possible traffickers were arrested on human trafficking-related charges.
The collaborative effort among law enforcement agencies included representatives of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Human Trafficking Task Force, U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, Homeland Security as well as a number of local police departments, including Miami-Dade, Miami Beach and City of Miami.
The local Super Bowl Host Committee and the Women’s Fund also took part to disrupt and end potential trafficking activities before and during the Super Bowl while also raising awareness, dispelling its myths and informing the public on how to report it.
The awareness campaign included billboards and advertisements at various locations around the Miami area, including local airports.
Thousands of Super Bowl volunteers, hospitality workers, physicians, hospital employees, non-profit organizations, ridesharing companies, churches, schools and universities received special training on what to look for and who to contact.
“Investments in creating greater community awareness are not just for the Super Bowl but can be important assets for the future,” said Fernandez Rundle. “This united effort has not only led to arrests and recoveries, but has also provided us with information and leads that help us continue to successfully stop human trafficking in our community.”