Seven additional arrests bring the total to 40 charged in a federal sex-trafficking investigation in Atlanta, the Department of Homeland Security said Friday.
“Obviously the Super Bowl is a major event for the NFL and fans,” Bryan Cox, Homeland Security spokesman, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s also a major event for criminals because there’s a lot of money coming to town.”
On Wednesday, federal investigators announced 33 arrests in four days during the investigation. Four victims — two adults and two juveniles — have been rescued, Cox said Friday.
“Street-level prostitution is not what we are working on,” he said. “We are focusing on trafficking.”
Investigators are focused on reaching victims, regardless of gender, who have been manipulated and told not to cooperate with law enforcement, Cox said. Even a victim in the United States illegally has rights, he said.
“There are benefits under the law for victims of trafficking,” Cox said. “All they need to do is ask for help and call law enforcement.”
Last year, sex-trafficking investigations during the Super Bowl in Minneapolis resulted in 94 arrests, The Star Tribune reported.
The investigation in Atlanta will continue through Sunday’s game.