ASU Study Finds Prostitution Increase Around Major Events

March 06, 2014

(Photo by Alexandra Olgin-KJZZ)
Phoenix Lt. James Gallagher talks about sex trafficking research at Arizona State University.

Conventional wisdom says the Super Bowl attracts men, money and prostitutes. Arizona State University researchers proved that to be true in a new study that followed sex trafficking in New Jersey and Phoenix during this year’s game.

Researchers studied sex ads in both places to find which ads were most likely to be selling trafficked victims. Even though results in New Jersey showed an increase of activity around the time of the Super Bowl, researchers say the two are indirectly related. The influx of fans for any event, increases demand for prostitutes.

ASU researcher Dominique Roe-Sepowitz uses Phoenix as an example. Its status as a vacation destination makes demand higher here not just during major events but all year around.

“We are the second largest resort community in the country, second to Orlando. So we constantly have things here bringing people to town that allow them to be away from their family, have money in their pocket and purchasing sex makes sense,” said Roe-Sepowitz.

In addition to monitoring the sex ads, researchers also made fake ones to measure demand in New Jersey and Phoenix. The ad that ran in the Valley during the week of the Super Bowl got more than 970 responses and the one in New Jersey got 1,200. Phoenix Police Lt. James Gallagher said his department did not have the resources to chase all the leads.

“There is a great deal of network involvement when it comes to sex trafficking. There is definitely a group of collaborators that moves people, markets people and then move them out of town to avoid capture,” said Gallagher.

To combat this problem Gallagher suggested creating a national intelligence network to share information so law enforcement can work across communities follow suspects. Gallagher said his department will use this research to track ads, leading up to the Super Bowl in Glendale next year.