No Busts for Human Trafficking at F1
Austin police had said there would be a high risk of human sex trafficking during Formula One weekend, but that doesn’t seem to have happened.
Police arrested 13 people on suspicion of prostitution over the weekend. They were all adults. And when given the opportunity, none of them claimed to be victims of human trafficking.
That flies in the face of the working theory proposed by officials that large events like F1 would increase that type of crime.
“As far as our operation goes, we consider that a success,” said Sgt. Keith Suitt with APD’s Human Trafficking Unit. “Our goal wasn’t to arrest as many people as possible, it was to encounter these potential victims and give them an opportunity to make an outcry.”
Law enforcement worked with local nonprofits and a research group from UT to provide that opportunity. The group Restore a Voice had housing ready to help human trafficking victims, and it placed large ads on the sides of Capital Metro buses, part of a publicity campaign meant to increase awareness about human trafficking during F1 weekend.
“As far as I know during any other events, this has not been done, so the outreach I think has been the key element that kept this type of crime happening in Austin,” Suitt said.
APD says it plans to increase efforts to prevent human trafficking in the future.