The Super Bowl Sex Raids are a Scam (And we’re not the only ones saying so.)

“Whether the game is in Dallas, Indianapolis or New Orleans, the pattern is the same: Each Super Bowl host state forms a trafficking task force to “respond” to the issue; the task force issues a foreboding statement; the National Football League pledges to work with local law enforcement to address trafficking; and news conference after news conference is held. The actual number of traffickers investigated or prosecuted hovers around zero.”—  The Global Alliance Against Trafficking In Women 

“This is urban legend that is pure pulp fiction.” — NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy

“After reviewing the available academic research, we concluded that ‘Super Bowl sex trafficking’ as reported in the news media is not empirically supported.”— Anti-Trafficking Review

“No data actually support the notion that increased sex trafficking accompanies the Super Bowl” —  Kate Mogulescu, founder the Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society, in New York Times.

“The Super Bowl is often referred to as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States. This simply isn’t true.” — Safe Horizon

“[The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children] said the Super Bowl likely doesn’t attract more sex traffickers than any other large event. What’s more, he also conceded there is no way to quantify the problem.”—  Super Bowl Prostitution Forecast Has No Proof (WFAA)


In November, the USC Gould School of Law’s International Human Rights Clinic released a ground-breaking report detailing the ineffectiveness of police operations — raids, sweeps and stings — when it comes to sex trafficking, and the harm they do to sex workers. 

The IHRC conducted a comprehensive review of the literature, conducted extensive review of public records related to raids, interviewed over 40 anti-trafficking professionals, as well as members of law enforcement, sex workers, and survivors of sex trafficking. 

The report concluded the following: 

  • Such operations are not effective tools to prevent sex trafficking. Despite law enforcement’s overreliance on the use of such operations, they identify few or no victims while largely targeting sex workers. 
  • Law enforcement over-rely on the operations as a method to identify and empower victims when in reality, operations tend to traumatize victims and undermine their trust in law enforcement. 
  • The data provided by law enforcement is not accurate, and conflicts with reports of survivors, experts, and advocates.
  • These operations fail to protect actual trafficking victims, or connect them to services. 

The report recommended that law enforcement “drastically limit” the use of such operations, and redirect funding to evidence-based approaches that are more effective and do less harm.

“Anti-sex trafficking operations identify few victims or traffickers and instead result in the arrests of many victims and sex workers—a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, particularly Black women and minors. Due to racial bias, among other factors, law enforcement officials “are more likely to perceive a prostituted child of color as a criminal, as opposed to a victim of sexual assault or abuse.” Law enforcement officers frequently forgo a victim-centered approach and instead traumatize and criminalize, arresting, threatening to arrest, interrogating, doubting, blaming, and misgendering suspected victims. The few victims identified during operations of- ten face imprisonment on the basis of a material witness warrant or criminal charge.” — USC Gould International Human Rights Clinic


“The criminalization of prostitution, and particularly the criminalization of the activities of sex workers themselves in Los Angeles has an extraordinary disproportionate impact on black women. … There is an immense potential for discriminatory and selective enforcement of prostitution charges.”— Tracing Criminalization: Policing and Prosecution in Los Angeles 2017-19 (Court Watch LA)

A 2020 report by UCLA Law in conjunction with CourtWatchLA makes clear that the harm from sex-worker-targeted policing that takes place around the Super Bowl is directed at marginalized communities. Communities of color and low income communities are disproportionately targeted by police for prostitution related arrests, effectively criminalizing poverty and survival. The most vulnerable sex workers are those who work on the street, primarily sex workers of color including trans and immigrant women. According to the report, nearly 90% of soliciting prostitution charges in LA are women, while Black people are “disproportionately impacted and drastically overrepresented in prostitution related charges.”