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33 arrested for sex trafficking in Atlanta ahead of Super Bowl

By
Clyde Hughes
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speaks to reporters at a security press conference for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speaks to reporters at a security press conference for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Investigators in Atlanta have arrested nearly three dozen people in connection with sex trafficking ahead of this weekend's Super Bowl, authorities said.

Officials didn't detail charges but said 33 people have been arrested in the roundup, which will continue over the next few days.

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The FBI said major events like the Super Bowl commonly bring big-spending travelers and tourists to an area for a short period of time, and are often associated with an uptick in sex trafficking.

Anti-sex trafficking advocates are working to inform the public about warning signs, and are urged to notify authorities if they believe someone's being used as part of a sex-trafficking ring.

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"Our operations are continuing so I won't go specifically into what we're doing because we plan to run those operations throughout the rest of the Super Bowl," Nick Annan, Homeland Security Investigations special agent in charge, told WXIA-TV. "We've been up and running for the last four days of our operations, but we plan to continue what we're doing."

Homeland Security officials are working with Georgia authorities to crack down on trafficking, using undercover officers and social media. In Douglas County, officers made 16 arrests, finding victims as young as 17.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said the traffickers are part of networks that move from city to city for events to cash in on the influx of people willing to spend money.

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A local nonprofit that concentrates on missing teenage girls said it's looking for two victims who were spotted at Atlanta-area hotels.

"Hotel staff was able to identify two of the girls and said they had seen them recently," a representative for Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution said. "Now they will be able to alert authorities the next time they see them."

The Super Bowl is set for Sunday afternoon.

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