ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Fat Tuesday may be a big night for sex trafficking, according to activists who rescue girls from sex slavery. A coalition of volunteers from around the country, gathered in St. Louis this week, to attack the problem.
Fox 2`s Chris Hayes went undercover with advocates at last year`s Superbowl in New Orleans. Those advocates say the problem isn`t only happening at the Superbowl, but at any event with lots of men and alcohol.
In February, 2013, we went along for the ride in a rescue operation. Volunteers, working with police, searched for signs of sex trafficking. On one night, we saw what appeared to be a young teenaged girl. Though Superbowl seems to get all the attention, the advocacy groups fight the problem every day. They track many other events.
Kim Ritter explained, "So if there is a meeting, convention, sporting event, any sporting event, Mardi Gras, there are going to be an opportunities for the traffickers to bring boys and girls to the city to sell."
Ritter organized this week`s St Louis training called `Ignite. Sparking Action Against Sex Trafficking.`
Nita Belles, who travels to each Superbowl, came to St. Louis for the training. She described another rescue she conducted, after our Fox 2 expose`. She described, "Two young girls from a local Christian university who had gotten fake identification and gone out to party."
She said she spotted them wandering near a red light district.
Belles added, "They had no idea what was down that street." She continued, "They were drunk and they were unable to get a ride home and the pimps spotted them and they began circling them and trying to lure them."
She picked up the girls. They were both 19 years old. Belles said she`ll never forget this conversation with one of them. She said, "As I dropped her off at her dorm I said to her `somebody must have been praying for you tonight` because they were in a very dangerous situation and she looked at me and said, `I know who it was` and she started crying and she said, `It was my grandma.`"
Part of this week`s training dealt with what is sometimes described as a psychological kidnapping of people, which often begins with drugs and alcohol. People like Kim Ritter and Nita Belles think it can make a positive difference, just by having more people look out for each other.