TIME Crime

Authorities Say 16 Minors Rescued, 45 Pimps Busted in Super Bowl Sweep

FBI says this was "not a ring"

A total of 16 minors were rescued from sex traffickers in the run-up to Super Bowl Sunday, and police in four states arrested 45 pimps for selling women and children for sex, authorities said.

The FBI detailed the arrests Tuesday after a highly-publicized ramp-up in enforcement ahead of the Super Bowl, which, though evidence of the trend is spotty, has a reputation as a hotbed for sex trafficking. FBI spokesman Christos Sinos said arrests made in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut were not necessarily related.

“The general consensus is that this was not a ring,” Sinos said.

The rescued minors ranged from 13- to 17-years old, and some of them were children reported missing by their families. Others were high school students.

“The minors are removed from the exploitation and placed into protective custody, but state laws determine what would happen to the juvenile after the fact,” Sinos said.

The announcement comes after over six months of FBI preparation to develop a law enforcement framework to curb human trafficking around the Super Bowl, especially child prostitution. The Super Bowl efforts are part of the Lost Innocence Initiative, which has been working to stop child trafficking since 2003. To date, the FBI and its partners have recovered more than 3,100 children and convicted 1,400 pimps.

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