Spike in sex trafficking expected during NCAA games

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - While thousands of college basketball fans come to Central New York NCAA East Regional Tournament, a local task force is on alert because they say criminals aren’t far behind.

Data shows significant spikes in illegal sex traffickers follow major sporting events.

“What we're learning is there is an uptick of activity around major sporting events,” said Heather Wallace, President of the Junior League in Syracuse and a member of Central New York’s Human Trafficking Task Force. “It's not really the sporting event itself, it's the amount of people coming in for the events.”

A new study conducted by the University of Louisville, collected over 15 months, found online ads for trafficked girls tripled during March Madness last year.

“We're aware of the issue and we're also aware that there could be a spike surrounding this event,” said New York State Police Captain Mark Lincoln, another member of the local task force.

Red flags include young girls around hotels, possibly with older guys, dressed in provocative clothing and won't speak for themselves.

“Anybody staying at any local hotels that sees people that don't seem to be regular hotel guests and people in cars waiting for those types of guests certainly should call 911,” added Lincoln.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking has become the second fastest growing criminal industry - following drugs. More than half of the victims are children as young as 12 years old.

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