ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - It is the underbelly of big sporting events that no one wants to talk about. But authorities and human trafficking experts believe dozens of girls and boys are being brought to St. Louis to be offered for sale during the World Series this weekend.
Those trying to stop it and play a role in rescuing girls from the sex slave trade work at area strip clubs.
Michael Ocello owns several adult nightclubs and founded COAST, adult club operators against sex trafficking. He has the backing of ICE and Homeland security. His group has earned credibility with law enforcement and is leading the effort to educate people on how to recognize a sex trafficking victim.
"There is a lot of concern that there is a tremendous amount of human trafficking going through St. Louis and being conducted in St. Louis," said Ocello.
Especially during major sporting events that draw big crowds, he said. Ocello printed 10,000 baseball cards that will be handed out by his employees this weekend. The front looks like a souvenir, while the back details signs of human trafficking and a number to call that could save a victim's life.
Stephanie Kilper, with Operation Freedom Taskforce in Akron, Ohio works to end to human trafficking. She says girls are being brought into St. Louis and Boston just for the World Series crowds.
"They have to sleep with 8,9,10 men through the course of an evening. These are girls that are 13, 14, and 15-years-old that are being brought in, and set up and forced to do things they wouldn't want to do," she said.
The attorney general in Texas called the 2011 super bowl the single largest human trafficking event in the United States.
No one has said how the World Series compares but with any large event, human trafficking experts say there is no doubt underage girls and boys will be sexually exploited this weekend in St. Louis.