The F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix last weekend turned up 14 missing individuals, who were later identified as children, during a search-and-rescue operation, as reported by KLAS-TV/Las Vegas. While the attention of most people at the race was focused on the racetrack, officials from F.R.E.E. International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending human trafficking in the U.S., were monitoring the crowd, as they do during large public events in Las Vegas.
Michael Bartel, founder of F.R.E.E. International, emphasized the prevalence of predators in the city and the importance of their work in combating human trafficking. The organization worked in collaboration with Clark County School District Police (CCSDPD) and private security officers during the operation, as the likelihood of juveniles being sex-trafficked increases during large events in the city.
Details of the rescues were not fully disclosed, including the number of children reunited with their families. F.R.E.E. International plans to follow up with the families of those who were returned and provide a holiday meal. It was also noted that a study published in 2019 found no statistically significant increase in crime, including sex trafficking, during the 2018 F1 Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
In February, F.R.E.E. International will conduct a similar operation during Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium. The organization urged anyone who suspects their child is missing to contact the police immediately. This serves as a reminder of the importance of vigilance and swift action in ensuring the safety and protection of children during large public events.