Connection between Super Bowl weekend and sex trafficking?

I know the domestic abuse/Super bowl connection has been debunked. But I read something strange about sex trafficking and the big game today.
Here’s the article. It’s about a new campaign against websites that allow trafficking advertising:

From the second page of the article:

Is this grounded in truth? I mean, there may have been 24 minors taken into custody but was it connected to the Superbowl? Are the statistics similar when the Superbowl isn’t happening?

I don’t know anything about the Superbowl per se but this is a common type of hysteria-rousing by the anti-prostitution brigade. The last two World Cups were both preceded by a flood of warnings about tens of thousands of women being trafficked into Germany and South Africa respectively to coincide with the event. Neither materialised but I doubt that will stop the same panic being stirred up in 2014. It’s really just an opportunity for these groups to get their issue in the headlines again and to press for the legislative changes they’re seeking (which typically have little to do with trafficking itself and more to do with prostitution law generally).

Anything that fills the hotels in a city will be attractive for prostitution. More so if a large percentage of those rooms will be filled with unaccompanied men.

Yes, but the question was about trafficking, not prostitution.

My firm does work related to the public safety / security aspects of most recent Super Bowls. Including the upcoming one in Dallas.

If you haven’t actually attended or worked on a Super Bowl you may not realize that it’s a 7-day continuous rolling party for the wealthy & expense account set. The game itself is the last half of the last day and a bit of an anticlimax. The proles (i.e. you & me) come streaming in on Saturday for 24 hours of fun ending with the game. The previous 5 days have been a bit more, shall we say, exclusive.

In general, the local law enforcement agencies see an influx of out-of-town prostitutes to service the crowds. But as noted above these are your typical pimps 'n pros, not some shadowy organization which suddenly procures & traffics batches of kids into town to serve our Depraved Corporate Overlords®™

I remember that in South Africa prostitutes were actually complaining they has so little business because the men were only interested in the Football.

Why can’t they be both, like the late Earl Warren?

Good point. Levitt and Dubner’s *Superfreakonomics *makes the point that a large number of women who would not normally be in the business typically spend Independence Day weekend in Chicago as sex workers. Independence Day is a big time for family reunions, and the influx of people (theoretically) brings out folks looking for extra money. IIRC, these women are local, not trucked in from the hinterlands to service the visitors.

I find this interesting. Dallas cracked down on trafficking and shut down a lot of “asian massage parlors” in some of the seedier districts of town. They are still closed, but I’ve seen a few new ones pop up in different places(the neighborhood where my in-laws live has seen a spike in streetwalker activity). Arlington has a seedy area not that far from the superbowl site and I wouldn’t be surprised if they crack down on it pretty hard here soon. That having been said, most of the prostitution in Dallas is escorts working independently. A few brothels disguised as tanning salons or massage parlors, but there has never been much evidence of pimping being widespread. If anything it’s the other way around and the girls employ guys as “drivers” to shake down a reluctant John if they don’t want to pay. I’ll have to keep a closer eye on it as the superbowl aproaches. It may be interesting. My particular suburb has a very low tolerance for these activities and is well known as a place where escorting will get you jail time, so I doubt we’ll be seeing it, although we would have been ground zero if the stadium hadn’t moved.

If anyone is interested, PM me and I’ll send you the address of a board where the “hobbyists” hang out and you can ask this question there. These are people who have been involved in the prostitution scene in Dallas for decades, so you’d get as good an answer as possible probably. Also there is another board which is less local and could probably answer questions about previous venues and the trafficking patterns there.


I did a bit of Googling into this and found this article which concludes with the line: “But police say they didn’t find any links to human trafficking.”


Exactly what constitutes trafficking can be interpreted in a blurry enough way that a great deal of prostitution could be construed as trafficking. I have to think that they are reading in a very wide interpretation of trafficking.

It seems unlikely to me that there would be a significant amount of more narrowly-defined trafficking for a single event. Human trafficking requires an infrastructure not unlike the drug trade. While there really is a lot of trafficking in places where single men congregate over long periods of time (ie, military bases), it just strikes me as too complex and frankly not worth the effort to bring in a lot of trafficked people for a single weekend.

Human trafficking is real and a terrible, tragic problem. It goes on in the United States. I’m not sure if I’m glad that these people are making a fuss over it and bringing it to the public’s attention or annoyed that they’re making a fuss over something that I doubt is actually happening in this particular instance. I’ve seen people on this message board say that they think the trafficking numbers international organizations come up with are inflated and that it can’t be as big a problem as they say, so I am a little worried that activists might be crying wolf here.

Prostitutes range from happy motivated entrepreneurs to girls kept in chains and regularly beaten, with many “shades of gray” in between. Even in the U.S.A. In most cases of coercion, the coercion does not require incarceration or violence.

Those who tend to think most prostitutes are “happy hookers” are quite wrong, but so are those who think most are innocent victims of “trafficking.”

I don’t know the answer to OP’s question, but would be very surprised if organized crime did not have a strong presence in this “money-making opportunity.”

I don’t disagree with your general point, but I also don’t appreciate the scare quotes around “trafficking”.

Trafficking is real. It isn’t “imaginary”.

Oops. I’ve a bad habit of over-using quote-marks; these were not “scare quotes” (whatever that means :confused: ). I’m certainly aware there is trafficking; again it can vary from black to dark shades of gray; my quotes were a (very misguided) attempt to mean “trafficking, even in an inclusive sense.”

A better article, originally published in the Dallas Morning News, is archived as a PDF on the website of a human rights group. It talks about a series of raids on eight different businesses in 2007. I’d have to follow-up to see if the arrests had any trafficking findings, but the article here mentions the outcome of a similar series of raids from 2005.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the arrests from 2007 are still working their way through the courts. I haven’t seen a lot of follow up to the 2007 raids online. The closest I’ve seen is a Examiner report on the comments of AG Abbott which sparked this thread.

The 2007 raids on multiple massage parlors/tanning salons were about the right timeframe, but I’d expect them to result in charges of adult international trafficking, not minor domestic trafficking. In any case, this is a significant problem which Dallas is dealing with very aggressively.

That having been said, there will definitely be some out of town providers coming in. I’d wager that some of them will be trafficked. In fact, one local attorney has just put up a page letting people who may be charged with trafficking in conjunction with the Superbowl know that he’s willing to defend them against human trafficking/prostitution charges. So it looks like he’s making that bet too.


The problem isn’t inflation so much as conflation - basing the numbers of trafficking victims on (estimated) numbers of migrant sex workers. In fact some go even further than that. The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women has an explicit aim of redefining the words “trafficking” and “prostitution” to make them synonymous. Most other groups aren’t quite as extreme as that, but there is still a tendency to assume that all or most foreign women in prostitution have been trafficked, although this assumption rarely holds up under close investigation.

And there can be a problem with just drawing attention to it because the “solutions” are usually limited to cracking down on prostitution, which rarely has much effect on the trafficking industry but just drives the sex industry further underground - with all the negative consequences that has for those working in it. Many sex workers’ organisations will tell you that the anti-trafficking hysteria has had damaging consequences for their ability to operate safely. And it’s very questionable whether it’s actually done anything to prevent trafficking.

Finally, is there anyone who thinks the answer to the OP’s question is “yes” that can actually cite some evidence for it? All we’ve got so far is, well, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Well, the next step would be to go to the source and ask those with first-hand knowledge. There are two big national boards and one largely focused on Texas(Dallas and Houston mostly) that I know of which could probably give a thoughtful answer. Registration is always free and anonymous(for obvious reasons). There are some extra features(such as explicit reviews/comments) which are on a pay basis, but general questions like this one are fielded in some of the general chat forums.

I think it should go without saying that you shouldn’t do this research at work or anywhere you don’t want to be exposed to explicit content. The national ones, which could answer questions about past superbowls, would be the big doggie board, or the erotic review. Google the terms and you’ll find them pretty quickly. The locally focused board is called eccie and I don’t know what it stands for. It’s relatively new, within the past two or three years, but is pretty active. You’d be surprised at how often they field questions like this. In fact, there are probably topics on this already. It’s pretty common for a researcher to go there and conduct surveys or ask for feedback on how to study an aspect of the industry.