CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - While NBA All-star weekend is projected to bring in millions for the Queen City’s economy, there’s a much darker business experts say it could be bringing along with it.
“We would be naive to not think that you know there will be individuals here that will try to take advantage of our citizens an our residents," says Lieutenant Brad Koch with CMPD.
Human trafficking—police say is a magnet for large sporting events—just like NBA All-Star weekend.
“We’re going to have tens of thousands of people who are in the city and not familiar with the city," says Koch.
Trafficking comes in many shapes and forms according to exploiting people for sexual or labor purposes—they call it a modern-day form of slavery. During big events, police say traffickers take advantage of hot spots like sports venues, hotels and areas just outside main interstates that can turn into easy areas for trafficking—all areas you can expect NBA All-Star weekend events.
“When I drive by a hotel sign, I don’t see a hotel sign. I know that there is someone being trafficked. So, there is work that needs to be done," says Joy Anderson a Victim of sex-trafficking.
Anderson was rescued about five years ago during a trafficking sting at a hotel right here in Charlotte. North Carolina ranks within the top 15 states for Human trafficking and police say there’s at least one human trafficking sting a month in Charlotte. Anderson and other organizations throughout the city are continuing to raise awareness about trafficking…
“Pay attention especially to young people who may appear nervous or uncomfortable with the adults there are with and just generally be alert,” says Dr. Patricia Krikorian with Lily Pad Haven.
“There’s a lot of activity that does occur online," says Koch.
Experts say Traffickers can “advertise” the availability of commercial sex trafficking using online ads and social media sites. CMPD says their cyber crimes unit will be monitoring both online and in person.
“Don’t isolate, don’t go of by yourself. Make sure if you do the restroom that there are other people in there," says Krikorian.
Krikorian and police say heading into the weekend, you need to be prepared.
“Were going to have a really large influx of officers out there so that if you see something, or something looks suspicious, if you see something please say something, either call 911 or tell an officer," says Koch.
Police say if you see something that looks even the slightest bit suspicious, to call 911 or an officers, because in the end its better to be overly cautious than say nothing at all.