INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - When Indianapolis hosts the Superbowl in 2012, public safety will be ready for the dark side of the largest sporting event in America: human trafficking.
Friday, Gov. Mitch Daniels, Attorney General Greg Zoeller and State Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport) will stand together to introduce legislation meant to close loopholes in Indiana's existing human trafficking statute which currently makes it difficult to prosecute traffickers.
State attorneys general have reported that in other states that previously hosted Super Bowls and other large sporting events, an influx of human trafficking occurred as organized criminal groups within the commercial sex industry promoted underage prostitution to out-of-town visitors.
In 2009, when Tampa hosted the Super Bowl, police took 24 child prostitutes into state custody. Many of the children were considered runaways.
In 2010 when Miami hosted the big game, police estimated as many as 10,000 prostitutes were brought into the area.
Then, for the Super Bowl in Dallas in 2011, 1,500 women and children were expected to be left in the city after traffickers used and abused them during the weekend.
According to the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking, between 14,500 and 17,500 men, women and children are illegally trafficked into the United States each year. Worldwide, it's estimated between 700,000 and 4 million women, children and men are trafficked each year.
In preparation for the dark side of Super Bowl, state legislators will introduce legislation to close loopholes in Indiana's existing human trafficking statute, Friday. The preliminary bill would make it easier to punish traffickers harshly, by reclassifying trafficking as a Class A felony, the highest category under Indiana criminal law.
Under the proposal, a person convicted of selling a child for purposes of prostitution or sexual conduct would serve 20 to 50 years in prison. Indiana's trafficking laws currently apply to only parents or guardians, but the bill would change that.
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