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Florida attorney general warns of human trafficking ahead of Tampa Super Bowl

Moody’s office makes last-minute push for people to recognize signs of human trafficking

Raymond James Stadium, the site of NFL football Super Bowl LV, is shown Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Raymond James Stadium, the site of NFL football Super Bowl LV, is shown Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

As Tampa gears up for one of the most unusual Super Bowls in history, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody warns human trafficking is as big of a concern as ever.

The International Labor Organization estimates there are more than 40 million victims worldwide trapped in the $150 billion industry.

Pandemic or not, Moody said, weekends with big events like the Super Bowl generate a lot of that money for those kinds of businesses.

As many plan to traveling to Tampa from across the state and country for Super Bowl LV, Moody encourages all Floridians to familiarize themselves with ways to spot human trafficking, such as:

  • Individuals displaying fear, anxiousness, paranoia or a reluctancy to discuss injuries.
  • Physical injuries, such as burns, branding, disorientation, scars, tattoos, etc.
  • Speaking as if coached or having someone else speak for them.
  • Suffering from drug addiction, infections or sleep deprivation.

According to Moody’s office, during the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami, there were 47 arrests for human trafficking-related charges. Twenty-two people were rescued from those circumstances.

The city of Tampa created an awareness campaign called “Don’t Buy It, Tampa Bay” ahead of the big game.

Florida attorney general warns of human trafficking ahead of Tampa Super Bowl
Florida attorney general warns of human trafficking ahead of Tampa Super Bowl

Moody’s office teamed up with Uber, Airbnb and the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association to get their workers to recognize the signs of human trafficking.

In addition to Tampa’s mask ordinance, a “signs up” ordinance was also passed ahead of the game. That ordinance requires strip clubs, adult bookstores and theaters, and other sexually-oriented businesses to post signs providing information -- in multiple languages -- about how victims of human trafficking can get help.

If those businesses don’t have those signs up, they could be fined up to $265.


About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.