NEW YORK (AFP) - Sixteen juveniles were recovered and more than 45 people arrested during a crackdown on child prostitution linked to the Super Bowl, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014.
An FBI statement said the youngsters aged between 13 and 17 had been found in an operation targeting commercial child sex trafficking during the American football showpiece.
"High-profile special events, which draw large crowds, have become lucrative opportunities for child prostitution criminal enterprises," Mr Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, said in a statement.
"The FBI and our partners remain committed to stopping this cycle of victimisation and putting those who try to profit from this type of criminal activity behind bars," he added.
The FBI worked with more than 50 law enforcement agencies in four states during the crackdown ahead of Sunday's NFL season finale in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Several of the 45 people arrested admitted to travelling to New Jersey "specifically for the purpose of prostituting women and children at the Super Bowl," the FBI said.
The teenagers recovered during the raid included high school students and children who had been reported missing by their families.
Additional enforcement actions also led to the recovery of international human trafficking victims, the FBI added.
Last week US lawmakers warned that child prostitution networks were exploiting events like the Super Bowl, with congressman Christopher Smith describing the event as a "sex trafficking magnet".
Mr Smith cited figures from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, which reported that more than 10,000 women and girls were trafficked to Miami for the 2010 Super Bowl.
Ms Carol Smolenski, of the non-profit End Child Prostitution and Trafficking-USA, testified before lawmakers that around 100,000 children are trafficked into the US sex trade ever year.