By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
With ads for prostitutes proliferating around the Super Bowl, New Jersey has a message — stay away from young girls and boys who are being criminally trafficked for sex.
“To anyone engaged in this conduct or somebody who four days out from the Super Bowl who may be contemplating it, don’t try it. We have eyes and ears on the ground and in cyberspace. We are watching the internet and watching the neighborhoods,” said Gov. Chris Christie.
Christie was joined by Cindy McCain, the Arizona senator’s wife, who said human trafficking should be an issue not just at Super Bowl time but every day.
“So we face the element out there of educating people, making sure they understand this is not prostitution. These are victims,” McCain said.
Victim Lexi Smith said people who sensed she was being sold against her will didn’t know what to say.
“Dozens of people had the opportunity to show me that I was not made to be a sexual commodity for men. It only takes one to safe one, yet not one stood by me,” said Smith.
The press conference took place adjacent to what’s called the Public Safety Compound overseeing security at the Super Bowl site.
One hundred agencies are involved, led by the State Police.
“This is our nerve center, where we get real-time information and we’re monitoring all events related to the Super Bowl,” Major Yaiser said.
Former Sen. Jeff Chiesa has made human trafficking a signature issue.
“We knew the Super Bowl would give us an opportunity to talk about and highlight it, which is great. But the Super Bowl will leave here Monday morning and human trafficking will not,” Chiesa said.
The county prosecutor is alert to it.
“It’s the prime week, it’s the week when you go a lot of these online sites. They have 50 times the solicitations they did a year ago,” said Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.
“You’re gonna have a lot of young men who are going to come into your city with a lot of money. They’re not gonna have any family, wives or social restraints, and with that often will come a search for sex and prostitution. And as we know, where there is prostitution there is human trafficking that often lurks in the shadows,” said Acting Attorney General John Hoffman.
Hoffman said the state already has undercover operations underway involving policewomen, so a young man looking for a good time around here could end up hooking up with handcuffs.