THE FBI MADE more than 160 arrests of human trafficking suspects over 11 days leading up to Super Bowl weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. The operation comes on the heels of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, during which hotel companies and hospitality associations focused on training employees to prevent similar crimes.
During the sting operation lasting from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2, the FBI arrested 169 suspects. That included 26 alleged sex traffickers and 34 who allegedly attempted to engage in sex acts with minors. Also, 9 juvenile victims of sex trafficking were rescued, including a 14-year-old. Nine other trafficking victims were also identified.
The names of those charged and the specific charges were not released.
“The operation’s goal was to raise awareness about sex trafficking by proactively addressing that threat during the Super Bowl and events leading up to the Super Bowl,” FBI Spokesman Kevin Rowson said in a press release. “Sex trafficking is not just a problem during large scale events, it is a 365-day-a-year problem in communities all across the country.”
Rowson did not respond to a request for information on hotels involved with the operation, but hotels are one of the most common locations for human trafficking to occur. That is why so many hoteliers and associations observed National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January and National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Jan. 11.
For example, Marriott International reached a goal of training 500,000 hotel workers to spot and stop human trafficking. The company launched its mandatory human trafficking awareness training program for on-property staff in both managed and franchised properties in January 2017 as part of its sustainability and social impact initiative, Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction.
“Human trafficking is a horrific form of modern slavery that entraps millions of people around the world,” said Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson. “By educating and empowering our global workforce to say something if they see something, we are not just standing up for the most vulnerable in society, we are also protecting associates and guests.”
Other organizations, including AAHOA, also recognized the month and National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The month of awareness began in 2014 with a proclamation by President Barack Obama issued in December 2013. In the proclamation, Obama says the nation must address the “underlying forces that push so many into bondage.”
“Thousands of AAHOA members and their employees have taken AAHOA’s free online Human Trafficking Awareness Training and are making their front desks the front line in the fight against this heartbreaking exploitation,” AAHOA President and CEO Chip Rogers said in a statement. “America’s hoteliers stand with victims, law enforcement, and allies, not only today on Human Trafficking Awareness Day, but every day as we remain ever vigilant and committed to ending this despicable practice.”