Tampa, Fla. – Today, the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT) announced results from Project ReachOut to provide services to victims and potential victims of sex trafficking during Super Bowl LV week in Tampa.
Utilizing integrated online technologies to allow victims of trafficking and individuals at high risk of being trafficked, to reach local service providers, Project Reach Out distributed over 5,800 text messages resulting in 4,325 contacts with victims and potential victims.
One hundred forty-six individuals responded to the campaign, with 12 victims receiving direct care services one week before Super Bowl LV.
“We anticipated the uptick in sex trafficking that surrounds the Super Bowl every year and were prepared to provide on-the-ground victim service referrals to vulnerable children and adults in the Tampa area,” said USIAHT Chairman Kevin Malone. “Thanks to our dedicated staff and volunteers, Project ReachOut was able to intervene in sex trafficking operations and provide resources to a dozen victims being bought and sold for sex in and around Super Bowl LV.”
Project ReachOut was created to contact individuals appearing in thousands of online sex ads in the Tampa region and offer assistance in escaping sex trafficking and receiving trauma services while ensuring a secure, direct communication channel.
“Our staff and volunteers worked around the clock to contact victims who were being actively advertised for sex on hundreds of local websites and immediately knew we were successful in disrupting trafficking operations by the number of acknowledgments from victims and threats from pimps and traffickers,” said USIAHT Project ReachOut Director Natalie Kehn.
Funding to operate the technology and staffing required to successfully reach victims during Project ReachOut was provided by the Serrano | McGuire Law Firm and hundreds of online supporters of USIAHT.