Combatting Human Trafficking at Large Scale Sporting Events

Large scale sporting events bring visitors from across the world together and create an atmosphere of excitement and camaraderie amongst fans. These events also bring threat actors from across the globe, looking to use the anonymity of the event for illicit activities. These sporting events have become a magnet for human traffickers, looking to exploit young and vulnerable victims. The 2021 Super Bowl brought record numbers of fans to Florida. The event also attracted human traffickers looking to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable in the city and surrounding areas.

This case study will provide background on one human trafficking case that occurred during the 2021 Super Bowl and how open-source intelligence (OSINT) was leveraged to understand the breadth and network of one human trafficking network. This investigation began with the name of a person charged with human trafficking, obtained from publicly available information on the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s website and through the news media’s coverage of the case1. Cobwebs’ OSINT platform was used to work the case to help uncover possible accomplices and additional victims. Our tool provided the digital intelligence needed to uncover the true network of illicit activity before and during the Super Bowl.

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