SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The FBI official who oversaw the entire sex-trafficking operation says their 14 months of work before the Super Bowl had a major impact and helped stop sex-traffickers in their tracks.
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FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bertram Fairries spoke exclusively with ABC7 Investigative Reporter Dan Noyes. He touted the cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement and he gave credit to community groups who played a role in the crack down on human trafficking.
Fairries shared the latest totals and results of the entire team's efforts:
But FBI Agent Farries was most happy about the number of young lives that may have been saved.
Seven juveniles were rescued from sex-traffickers and pimps by law enforcement during the weeks before the Super Bowl.
Fairries explained the FBI set up what they refer to as HTOC -- the Human Trafficking Operations Center.
HTOC's coordinated all law enforcement activities throughout the Bay Area through the day of the Super Bowl.
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Any local police agency could present proposals for investigations and they would be managed and run through HTOC.
That allowed investigators from various agencies in the Bay Area to share information, tips and leads that would help take down the trafficking operations. Fairries said if one department developed something, it was passed to the HTOC and sent out to everyone and that had a significant impact on the overall success of the effort.
For example, he cited cases where criminals were prevented from moving from one area to another to set up prostitution operations because law enforcement in both areas were sharing information about those kinds of activities. It was all monitored and managed through HTOC.
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Investigators ran sting operations and they reviewed ads on various websites and blogs that are known for being frequented by sex-traffickers to gather leads. The word that the heat was on got around quickly and that evidently served as a deterrent.
Fairries said, "In some of the Internet sites and blogs we monitored communications between traffickers and or 'johns' who actually noted, 'I'm not operating this week'. I'm noticing increased law enforcement activities and I'm just not going to operate this week."
The FBI says the formula for a successful crackdown on all types of human trafficking in the Bay Area included a coalition of almost 70 community groups, service providers, legal service providers and advocates who worked closely with law enforcement at every level.
Sharan Dhanoa is Coordinator of the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking.
She said one important accomplishment of our community's anti-trafficking efforts in the run-up to the Super Bowl was the focus on victims and a willingness by law enforcement to take advocates and service providers with them on raids and operations.
Dhanoa went on a raid with agents from the FBI, Homeland Security and local police officers.
She said that kind of cooperation and the inclusion of a representative of the coalition was an invaluable strategy that helps ensure victims of trafficking are provided with services-services that can actually save lives.
The South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking has posted a "Taking Action" page so the public can see why law enforcement officials praise the contribution of community groups as being essential to their success.
The South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking's strategy includes putting up billboards to call attention to all types of human trafficking.
And the organization publishes a blog where concerned citizens can find out how they can get help for the victims of sex-trafficking.
Agent Fairries says those lessons learned in San Francisco about cooperation and communication are already being put to work to prepare for next year's Super Bowl in Houston.
To begin with, Fairries says the FBI sees the value in getting the word out.
"The plan we put together, specifically the press and working with the media, I think paid off. It made a significant impact," Fairries said.
And Agent Fairries told ABC7 Investigative Reporter Dan Noyes it takes everybody working together to stop sex-trafficking, "I think the coordinated effort with our federal (law enforcement) partners and state and local partners and NGO's, non-government agencies, support agencies-that alone I think is significant.
Bay Area Coalition to End Human Trafficking
Bay Area Coalition to End Human Trafficking: Take Action Project page
Bay Area Coalition to End Human Trafficking: Anti-Trafficking blog