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Local advocates, law enforcement say be mindful of human trafficking during Super Bowl parties

Posted at 7:49 PM, Feb 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 19:49:09-05

When it comes to stopping human trafficking, Lynne Barletta spreads her message on a grand scale.

Her organization Catch the Wave of Hope has partnered up with the community to paint a giant mural of fish and other aquatic wildlife in downtown Stuart.

“This mural is all being done for the purpose of bringing awareness for human trafficking, and raising funs to build a home for trafficked children,” she says. 

Barletta wants everyone to keep an eye out for the signs of human trafficking - especially this upcoming Super Bowl weekend.

“There are events, there are parties all related to the Super Bowl, and in those events…sometimes there's human trafficking,” she says. 

In a nationwide sting last Super Bowl weekend, police nationwide arrested 750 suspects.

According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, which coordinated the operation, 86 adults and 6 juveniles were rescued. 

Just over 100 of those arrests actually took place in the Super Bowl host city of Houston.

Advocates say it shows the issue isn't just contained to where the game is taking place.

Experts say a majority of the activity is contained to larger cities...but it doesn't mean smaller communities are immune

“Super Bowl time, there's a lot of partying, a lot of drinking, a lot of drug use...but a lot of times it brings in the human trafficking,” says Detective Michael Fenton with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. 

So as you head to Super Bowl parties this weekend, Detective Fenton says be mindful.

“Things like that that seem abnormal to you should stand out, and should be a red flag,” Fenton says. 

Lynne says there are certain signs to look out for. 

“The victims can't look you in the eye, they may have expensive jewelry, sometimes there's someone controlling the conversation for them,” she says. 

She says it's all about shedding light on an often underreported crime.

“The more people that are aware, the more we can do to actually stop it.”

If you notice any of the signs, don’t hesitate to get help. You can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. 

You can also text the at 233-733.