Underage workers rescued, 45 arrested in sex trafficking ring

Posted at 7:14 AM, Feb 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-04 09:14:19-05

By Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz

NEW YORK (CNN) — Local and federal authorities rescued more than a dozen underage sex workers and arrested 45 people on sex trafficking and related offenses in recent days, law enforcement officials tell CNN.

Authorities are expected to announce the arrests as soon as Tuesday. They are part of an operation conducted to counter an uptick in sex trafficking around the Super Bowl, the officials said.

State prosecutors in Manhattan and Westchester County plan to pursue charges against as many as 45 people, law enforcement officials said. New York City police worked with counterparts in Westchester County and the FBI to conduct the investigation.

Local authorities are working to reunite the sex workers with their families and provide medical care and shelter for those who have no place to go.

Authorities say they’ve noted increases in such criminal rings around major sporting events and political conventions.

A law enforcement official tells CNN that sex trafficking is a year-round problem, but an increase was seen recently as tens of thousands of people flocked to New York and northern New Jersey for the Super Bowl.

The problem has gotten the attention of federal lawmakers.

At a recent hearing in Washington, Rep. David Reichert, R-Washington, said, “The prevalence of this problem at the Super Bowl allows us to focus national attention on it. But it is a problem seven days a week, 52 weeks a year for the children who are caught up in it. We owe it to them to develop real solutions.”

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