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Former trafficking victims fight to save women and children sold for sex during Super Bowl week

WPTV Contact 5 Investigators
Posted at 11:55 AM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 23:43:00-05

Some in South Florida for the Super Bowl are working against their will as prostitutes.

They are mostly women. Some are just teenagers sold for sex.

WPTV NewsChannel 5 caught up with a group outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, the site of Super Bowl LIV.

This group didn’t come to South Florida for the game.

They came for the kids caught up in the dark world that some of these women escaped.

"My first experience with trafficking was when I was 13-years-old," said Dr. Katariina Roseblatt, known as Dr. Kat, who now advocates for victims.

When her fellow advocate Theresa Flores was lured into sex trafficking in her native Michigan, "I was 15-years-old.”

Both are in town to bring attention to the seamy side of Super Bowl week.

"Sex tourists come here to purchase sex with children,” said Rosenblatt. “And the Super Bowl brings an increase of sex tourism."

Dr. Kat says some of the men willing to pay $300-$1,000 for tickets to the big game are also willing to pay up to $3,000 for a 17-year-old girl to visit their hotel room.

According to the FBI, during last year's Super Bowl week in Atlanta, law enforcement arrested 60 traffickers and men soliciting sex.

On Super Bowl week, advocates helped train employees at 300 businesses on how to spot trafficking.

That list includes Uber drivers, security companies, and hotels.

"A lot of the hotel organizations don't know that they're being solicited by traffickers," says Rosenblatt, whose organization, There is H.O.P.E. for Me, is dedicated to freeing victims of human trafficking.

Advocates want hotels to look for older men accompanying younger girls or boys whose hotel rooms have people coming and going at all hours.

They want Uber drivers and others to look for young women who appear drugged, jittery, or bruised.

Theresa Flores says young women often show other signs: “she's beaten. She's being brainwashed, mentally. It's trauma all over."

Flores is the head of “S.O.A.P.” or Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution.

The organization hands out soap with the phone number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

"I would love to be able to rescue those kids, and say, 'We got you now. Life is going to be better,'" said Flores

"All the attention is in South Florida, and Miami specifically," added Miami-based child advocate Nelson Hincapie.

He is the president of the advocacy group, Voices for Children, and says the focus on South Florida, has human traffickers here for the Super Bowl looking bring their criminal activity north.

"They're probably going to try to be away from it distance wise, to Broward and West Palm Beach," Hincapie said.

Trafficking is already a problem in Palm Beach County where records show twelve people were arrested and charged with human trafficking in the past two years.

"If you see something, say something. Get involved," said Dr. Rosenblatt who wants everyone on the lookout for sex trafficking during Super Bowl week. "This may the one campaign that may finally stop them."

On the first day of Super Bowl week, the FBI arrested a man and woman on human trafficking charges at a hotel in Miami Gardens. More arrests are expected in the days leading up to the big game.

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