BY MICHAEL RICONDA
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe announced on Monday that 17 people had been arraigned in the Clarkstown Justice Court on a variety of charges related to human trafficking, prostitution and drug possession.
The arrests were made as part of a six-month joint effort which included the DA’s Special Victims Unit, the Clarkstown Police Department’s Anti-Crime Unit and the F.B.I. The arrests themselves took place in the lead-up to the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium between January 30 and February 1.
Of the 17 individuals arrested, four men and one woman were charged with fourth degree promotion of prostitution, a misdemmeanor, and one was charged with felony sale of a controlled substance.
9 others were women brought in on prostitution charges and two others were arrested for other crimes including false personation and possession of a controlled subsstance. At least one 15-year old female was found in the sweep and will not face charges.
“While some of the young women have stated, whether truthfully or out of fear, that they knowingly participated in the sex trade, others claimed they were enslaved and trafficked,” Zugibe stated in a press release. “Each of these cases represents a sad commentary on lives ruined by the money that flows through the illegal marketplace.”
The Super Bowl has developed a reputation as a draw for pimps and prostitutes who hope to make money off visiting sports fans. In anticipation of the game, Rockland law enforcement had partnered with state, federal and New Jersey authorities while training its own police forces and reaching out to the public in an effort to shut down trafficking operations.
Though a clear trend has not been seen at all recent Super Bowls, the Tri-State area did apppear to have its fair share of traficking cases. A large crackdown earlier in January recovered 70 trafficked women and children and nabbed 45 pimps and customers.