LOUISVILLE -- Kentucky's attorney general is urging people to pay attention to more than horses and parties during the springtime celebrations leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
Warning of the unsavory side of Derby season, authorities are asking for the public's help in cracking down on sex traffickers trying to cash in on the crowds expected for the world's most famous horse race.
"This is our Derby, which is supposed to be a celebration," Attorney General Andy Beshear said Thursday. "And we should not allow criminals to mar it, especially through a crime that so victimizes our children and other vulnerable individuals. So be our eyes and ears."
More than 160,000 fans are expected to pack into Churchill Downs for the May 6 race, capping two weeks of festivities across Louisville that kick off Saturday night with a huge fireworks show.
Last Derby season, Beshear's office worked with local law enforcement in trying to root out trafficking operations. He said that effort led to multiple arrests and the rescue of a 14-year-old girl.
Authorities can point to other successes in their efforts.
A Kalamazoo, Michigan, man ensnared in a prostitution sting operation during a prior Derby season was sentenced recently to nearly 20 years in prison. David Q. Givhan was convicted of one count of sex trafficking and three counts of interstate transportation for prostitution.
Givhan twice brought a woman to Louisville to perform commercial sex acts in the days leading up to the 2015 Derby because "they had made a lot of money," court documents said.
Last year, Louisville metro police reported making 233 arrests for prostitution-related offenses, with 65 of them -- or more than a fourth -- occurring from April through Derby weekend.
Forty-four of the arrests occurred in the first week of May.
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