Super Bowl and big events can be breeding ground for trafficking; How to spot the signs on the road

With the Super Bowl just five days away, Florida leaders are looking for teammates to tackle human trafficking. High-profile events that draw in big spenders and out-of-towners, including the big game, are a natural hot spot for traffickers.

Right now, Florida ranks third in the U.S. for the highest volume of trafficking victims, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

“They want to exploit,” Nicole McCall said. “They want to make money.”

Action News Jax reporter Meghan Moriarty spoke with McCall back in June. The Jacksonville mom is a human trafficking survivor now looking to help others.

“I was in the life of sex trafficking for more than 10 years,” McCall said. “Being exploited and just you’re not treated as a human. You’re treated like something to be purchased.”

McCall believes human trafficking often gets swept under the rug and many aren’t aware at the number of people trafficked during Super Bowl week.

During an 11-day FBI operation in Atlanta in 2019, 169 arrests were made related to sex trafficking, and 18 victims were recovered. Out of the 18, nine were under the age of 14. In 2020, during Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Attorney General Ashley Moody said there were 47 arrests and 22 victims recovered.

In an effort to cut that number down, Moody is enlisting the help of truck drivers and hotel staff workers to spot the signs.

Right now, there are more than 3,000 commercial truck drivers who have joined ‘Truckers Against Trafficking,” assisting law enforcement in recognizing and reporting human trafficking.

Hotel staff is going through a special anti-trafficking as well. They’re learning how to recognize evidence, knowing when to bring in law enforcement and adding a checklist of “what to look out for” in break rooms. A representative with Marriott said it may actually be easier to spot some signs since COVID-19 will minimize some of the crowds they usually see.

Some include:

  • Lying about age, fake ID
  • Frequently missing school or falling asleep in school
  • -Hotel room keys
  • Restricted communication, no eye contact
  • Older boyfriend, dominating boyfriend
  • Large amounts of cash
  • Sudden dramatic change in behavior
  • Seems fearful, timid
  • Has branding or tattoo displaying “daddy”
  • Inappropriate clothing for the weather or venue
  • Uses slang or code words used in the commercial sex industry
  • Disconnected from family, friends, or house of worship-
  • Doesn’t know what day of the week it is
  • Appears to be coached on what to say

If you suspect human trafficking, report it. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888. You can also call 911, if you notice anyone in immediate danger.

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