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10 Feb, 2016 18:25

Seven teenage girls rescued from Super Bowl sex trafficking ring, says FBI

Seven teenage girls rescued from Super Bowl sex trafficking ring, says FBI

The FBI have released details of their anti-sex trafficking operation which targeted increased forced prostitution in the run-up to the Super Bowl.

Seven underage girls, ranging in age from 14 to 17, were rescued by the FBI in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Among the rescued teenagers were high-school students and children who had been reported missing by their parents. Additionally, a “developmentally delayed adult” who was being sexually exploited was rescued and her pimp arrested.

During the operation, 12 pimps and 85 prostitution clients were arrested, while a further 129 adults were arrested or “contacted” by the FBI for prostitution.

READ MORE: ‘Prostitutes are victims, not offenders’ - new police guidelines

It’s no secret that sex trafficking balloons around high profile sporting events such as the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup, and the Super Bowl.

“High-profile special events, which draw large crowds, have become lucrative opportunities for sex trafficking criminal enterprises,”said FBI agent Bertram Fairries.

Fairries told ABC7 News that the operation began 14 months ago in preparation for the crime surge, and plans to tackle similar crimes around next year’s NFL showpiece event have already begun.

The anti-sex trafficking Super Bowl operation is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative. The FBI says that since the program’s launch in 2003, it has helped approximately 4,800 sexually exploited children and secured more than 2,000 convictions.

The FBI was recently heavily criticized for continuing to run one of the largest child porn websites in the world for almost three months last year, instead of taking it offline after taking over the site.

Agents used the website to upload malware to the computers of people who accessed the illegal material, although they apparently had difficulty in ascertaining the real life identities of some of those charged through the operation.

READ MORE: Things you need you know about the Super Bowl that have nothing to do with football