This year’s Super Bowl has brought more than just football fans to New Jersey. An increase in the number of prostitutes descending on NJ has compelled a statewide increase in awareness of the sex trafficking industry.
Of course, it is still debatable whether the Super Bowl is actually “the largest human trafficking venue on the planet.” However, the connection between the event and a widespread increase in prostitution more generally is unmistakable.
According to authorities located in the states in which the past three Super Bowls were held, four total arrests involving human trafficking were made in connection with the Super Bowl. While there were two cases involving sex trafficking in New Orleans and Indianapolis, respectively, law enforcement officials in both states noted a multitude of prostitution-related charges.
In anticipation of the upcoming Super Bowl and all that it is expected to bring, the NJ Attorney General’s Office issued the following statement:
“The data we have seen – as well as common sense and experience – tells us that large events that draw wealthy tourists from around the globe tend also to draw increased demand for prostitution. That demand is particularly apparent on the Internet, and we have already begun to see increased volume of prostitution and ‘escort’ ads in connection with the upcoming Super Bowl.”
Per an investigation conducted by the Asbury Park Press, one of the most often-accessed escort service websites on the Internet showed a massive increase in listings in North and Central Jersey in the past month. The newspaper reported just 39 total listings on the website on January 3, which skyrocketed to 173 postings on Friday, January 24.
This notable spike was also observed in Indianapolis during Super Bowl 2012, where police reported a comparable Internet advertisement boom prior to the big game.
In terms of legal definitions, there is a significant distinction between prostitution and sex trafficking. Significantly, prostitution need not involve the coercion of the individual engaging in commercial sex. Prostitution offenses in New Jersey are governed under N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1. As set forth by the statute, prostitution can be classified as a second degree felony, a third degree felony, or a disorderly persons offense.
In typical cases involving prostitution, the charge is categorized as a disorderly persons offense, punishable by up to six months in the county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and a permanent charge on one’s criminal record. However, charges for promoting prostitution are often considered third degree offenses, which are punishable by three to five years in NJ State Prison.
For more information, see the NJ.com article entitled “Is Sex Trafficking at the Super Bowl a Myth?”