Los Angeles officials combating human trafficking ahead of Super Bowl

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Super Bowl attracts people and money from all over the world, and law enforcement officials say with it there is also an increase in human trafficking.

That's why a human trafficking prevention organization is using the event for a public awareness campaign.

There are signs in the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport alerting people about what to do if they suspect there is human trafficking around them. Law enforcement officials say it's sometimes not easy to spot.

"It could be a young woman having her belongings taken away and coerced into working as a housekeeper until a debt is paid. It could be a child coerced into prostitution," California Attorney General Rob Bonta said Tuesday at a news conference.

The organization It's a Penalty works to prevent abuse, exploitation and human trafficking worldwide. The organization has been doing this at the Super Bowl since 2014.

"Last year during the (Tampa Bay) Super Bowl, 18 children from a similar list that we helped to distribute were identified in the hotels and motels," said Sarah De Carvalho, CEO of It's a Penalty.

"It is unacceptable that on any given day in our city that at least 10,000 people are being trafficked here in Los Angeles," said L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez.

U.S. Customs and Border protection says it keeps a watch for those entering the country.

"Although though we are doing specific operations for the Super Bowl, we see this type of activity day in, day out, especially when there's any type of high visibility or high revenue event in the city," said Carlos Martel, an agent for U.S. CBP.

Officials say they also want people to be aware of the threat after the big game in February, and they have a message for any traffickers.

"Expect that we will catch you, and we will prosecute you and hold you accountable," Martinez said.

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