LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Leading up to F1, Metro Police say hundreds of workers at hotels, airlines, and nightclubs were trained on how to spot the signs of sex trafficking in preparation for a week-long operation.
“What we’re seeing in the human trafficking world is that these panderers, these pimps, they travel around the country and sometimes internationally, going where the money is, so we weren’t surprised to see people flying in,” said LVMPD Deputy Chief Nicholas Farese.
On Tuesday, Metro shared the results of that operation, which focused on the Strip and downtown Las Vegas, although arrests were made throughout the valley.
“I want the community to understand this is not a crime that is specific to our tourist corridors, it’s occurring in our neighborhoods beyond the strip,” said Capt. Hector Cintron with the LVMPD Gangs, Vice, and Special Investigations Bureau. “During this operation, we arrested 36 individuals for pandering, or more commonly known as sex trafficking, 31 people who were trying to purchase sex for money, 7 individuals for luring a child or soliciting a minor. This was part of a covert operation where the sex buyer believed they were meeting an underage victim for sex.”
During the week-long operation, police identified 215 people believed to be victims of sex trafficking and five juveniles.
“These are 5 juveniles that were reported as runaways that we came into contact with, in various operations both on the strip and then in other areas of town, that are running away from a bad situation and then they’re being preyed upon by human traffickers,” said Deputy Chief Farese.
Metro worked with the non-profit Signs of Hope’s R.I.S.E. program, offering resources and support to the victims, although they said only about 10% of them accepted the services, which is not uncommon.
“Housing, employment, education, we’re able to assist the victims to get out of the life and provide them with a different way of life,” said a representative for the R.I.S.E. program. “When we see victims that want to follow up and for our resources, we see that as a win. Each and every time, we see it as a win, no matter how many.”
Metro said the department is also planning a new sex trafficking initiative in partnership with the NFL and other community groups.
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