The 4/20 festivities in Denver were patrolled by a massive task force this year, organized by the FBI and involving 19 state and local law enforcement agencies. But they weren’t looking for weed, or any other controlled substances. The crackdown was coordinated on the assumption that the weed holiday would bring a boom in prostitution and that assumption was proved right, according to an article in The Cannabist.
Five minors being sold for prostitution were rescued by authorities during the operation. 26 adults were arrested for prostitution and 9 were taken in for sex trafficking.
Postings for online escort services rose 35 percent in the ten days before and after April 20. 4,397 postings were found by the FBI during that period.
Sex traffickers were definitely taking advantage of the 4/20 holiday in their marketing. The escort postings were apparently laced with “a lot of references to 420,” according to Denver FBI spokeswoman Deborah Sherman.
40 percent of the sex workers questioned by authorities during 420 week, including one 15 year-old, said that they had been brought to Colorado specifically for the cannabis event.
Apparently, big events often result in a spike in prostitution and not even stoner festivals are exempt from such a pattern.
“Whenever an event draws people from around the world, you will see an increase in sex trafficking,” said FBI Special Agent Thomas Ravenelle in a news release. “The reality is major events will always have some organized criminal activity, including people who facilitate and profit from prostituting adults and children.”
Those arrested during the operation included James Brent Anderson, arrested after allegedly propositioning an officer posing undercover as a 7 year-old. Also arrested was Pedro Davalos on suspicion of human sex trafficking.
Photo via Flickr user Cannabis Destiny