LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Fourteen missing children were found during the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, according to law enforcement officials and a non-profit that says it is devoted to ending human trafficking.
While Formula 1 racers took to the Strip for the Las Vegas Grand Prix on Saturday, F.R.E.E. International alongside private security companies and Clark County School District Police were also on the streets of Las Vegas for a different reason — to search for missing children in the area.
“We know we live in a world that has a lot of danger to it,” said Michael Bartel, executive director of F.R.E.E. International. “We live in a city where there are a lot of predators in it.”
Bartel said it’s easy for a young person on Las Vegas streets to be targeted, calling for urgency in the search. CCSD police say the urgency extends to law enforcement.
“When there are large events like this in our city, unfortunately, the likelihood of juveniles being sex trafficked can go up,” said Bryan Zink, a lieutenant with CCSDPD.
Together, the non-profit and school district law enforcement were able to locate 14 children, and while details were scarce, officials could say many of the young people they encounter don’t realize that they’re there to help.
“We wanted to know she was safe and she was okay,” said Sophia Tarango with Protective Force International, who was on site when a 15-year-old girl was located in a motel.
Anyone who suspects their child is missing is asked to contact police immediately.
Officials for F.R.E.E. International say they will follow up with families of children who have been returned to their homes, delivering a holiday meal. In February, the non-profit group will be back on the streets in time for Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.