NEW YORK - Forty-five people were arrested and 16 juveniles rescued in a two-week crackdown on prostitution in the New York-New Jersey area leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl, Federal Bureau of Investigation officials said on Tuesday.
The bureau said some of those arrested claimed they traveled to the site because of the high-profile football game, which drew an estimated 400,000 visitors to the region. The minors rescued ranged in age from 13 to 17 and included high school students and children reported missing by their families, the FBI said.
Arrests were made and victims recovered in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said FBI spokeswoman Barbara Woodruff.
The FBI, backed by state and local law enforcement agencies, had mounted a major crackdown on human trafficking and prostitution ahead of the Feb. 2 championship game, with some 3,000 law enforcement agents and civilians trained to help spot people who might be the victims of human trafficking.
While the game has passed, the risk has not, said Michael Harpster, who heads the arm of the FBI that focuses on violent crimes against children.
"It's easy to focus on this issue in light of a high-profile event, but the sad reality is, this is a problem we see every day in communities across the country," Harpster said.
Globally, human trafficking - which includes not only people forced into prostitution but domestic workers and others who are transported from their homes and forced to work - is a $32 billion industry with some 2.5 million victims, according to data from the United Nations.
The latest arrests are in addition to last week's bust of a multimillion-dollar New York criminal operation that sold wealthy clients "party packs" of drugs and prostitutes. Some 18 people were arrested in that crackdown, New York state officials said.