The FBI and local authorities on Thursday made their first human trafficking-related apprehensions during Super Bowl week.
Two women, ages 21 and 19, were taken into custody after authorities perused websites offering escort and massage services in Indianapolis, finding similar ads with different pictures of women.
Police said the 21-year-old woman is from Cleveland and had been forced into prostitution at age 16.
The 19-year-old woman is from Las Vegas and also had been forced into prostitution at age 16, police said.
An FBI Crimes Against Children unit interviewed both women and gathered information about those involved in the operation.
Once authorities determined that the women were part of a human trafficking operation, their status shifted from suspect to victim, RTV6's Jack Rinehart
The woman from Ohio was sent back to Cleveland, where she was reunited with her parents and met with the FBI.
The woman from Las Vegas was housed at a women's shelter overnight and will be interviewed again Friday, said Lt. Richard Kivett, of the Indianapolis police vice unit.
The FBI believes a man involved in the operation fled to Ohio, but authorities said they know who he is.
"Two of the escorts that our unit had right off the bat ended up being human trafficking cases that were turned over to the FBI," Kivett said. "We had hoped in our unit to get two cases this whole weekend that could fully investigate as good, solid cases, and we got two yesterday."
Authorities said they prepared ahead of time for arrests during the Super Bowl, when the sex trade typically increases in a host city because of the volume of visitors.
Police said prostitutes from all over the country are in Indianapolis this week. Many of them advertise on backpage.com, one of many sites police are watching closely.
"We've had them from California, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Ohio, Oklahoma, various cities," Kivett said. "They're coming in because there's a lot of money to be made in Indianapolis."
Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill a few days ago that increases the penalty for forcing an underage person into the sex trade to up to 50 years in prison.
"That's our main focus this week, to look for underage children that could possibly be brought into prostitution in Indianapolis during the Super Bowl, Kivett said. "That's our main concentration and those that are trafficked for prostitution as adults."
No arrests have been made involving women under age 18.
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