SPEEDWAY, Ind. (July 23, 2015)-- With the Brickyard 400 this weekend, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and lawmakers are raising awareness of human trafficking.
Zoeller said large sporting events are peak times for these illegal activities.
That’s why he and two state representatives hit Main Street in Speedway on Thursday going door-to-door with trafficking awareness information.
Zoeller said history’s shown that big sports events in Indianapolis attract the sex trade.
“I’ve got to be honest. When you get a bunch of men together, it’s really where the problems exist,” said Zoeller.
The awareness is an effort Attorney General Zoeller’s office started when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl in 2012. He points to the recent Final Four as proof of a surge, where online ads for forced prostitution and escort services numbered 100 a day. Authorities made 18 commercial sex related arrests then.
“This is a tremendous problem, and you don’t have to take my word for it,” said State Representative Christina Hale.
Zoeller, Hale, and State Representative Karlee Macer walked to a number of businesses, talking with owners and even customers about human trafficking and the signs ahead of the Brickyard 400.
Restaurant owners said they know the threat is real.
“It’s time that we protect these people you know, it’s time,” said Elizabeth Glover, owner of Charlie Brown’s Pancake and Steak House in Speedway.
“These women were never volunteers. They probably got abused at home, ran away, picked up by a pimp, now they are part of a trafficking thing,” said Zoeller.
The attorney general’s office said their outreach for the Brickyard includes visits to more than 50 locations and 20 hotels.
"It's important that we draw attention. I know it's uncomfortable, but this has led to people being allowed to continue to work," said State Representative Karlee Macer.
Signs of a trafficking victim include someone who avoids eye contact, appears malnourished, shows abuse, or has even been branded with the symbol of a trafficker.
Zoeller advises quickly alerting law enforcement or getting a license plate number so authorities have something to track.