Human Trafficking

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is often referred to as modern-day slavery. More precisely, human trafficking involves the act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person by threatening or using force or other forms of coercion, deception or other means, for the purpose of exploitation. To put it simply, a person is trafficked if she or he is forced or tricked into a situation in which he or she is exploited.

What is exploitation?

Exploitation includes, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Who are the victims?

It is impossible to describe a typical victim of human trafficking. Victims can be children as well as adults, male as well as female, illiterate as well as the educated, able-bodied as well as the disabled. Most victims, however, are people who had hopes, be it for a better life or to make money for their families, and whose hopes were ultimately crushed. 

Forms of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking usually consists of (3) three stages:

Recruitment Stage: 
Criminals use many methods to force or trick people into being trafficked. In some cases, the people are abducted and assaulted. In other cases, however, the people are offered good jobs and attractive opportunities that do not actually exist or that force them into exploitative labor and living conditions.

Transportation Stage: 
Victims may be moved by land, sea and/or air, openly or covertly, in groups or alone, using public or private means of transportation. People can be trafficked across legal or illegal border crossings, or, in cases when persons are trafficked inside the borders of a country, no border crossing at all. 

Exploitation Stage: 
Victims may be obliged to do any of the following: Have sex or be sexually assaulted, have an organ removed, work in places such as factories, restaurants, plantations, mines or homes (as domestic help) without the right to rest or the option to leave. They are also used to beg, sell illegal drugs, or fight as child soldiers.

Understanding Force, Fraud, and Coercion

These terms include any situation where an individual is forced to do something against their will, or where they are tricked into doing something by someone who is lying to them or suppressing the truth. 


can be active and physical or indirect and psychological (including threats). This term includes:
  • Compulsion
  • Constraint
  • Restraint


refers to behaviors including: 

  • Threats of harm or physical restraint
  • Trying to get a person to believe that if they don't do something, it will result in serious harm or physical restraint of themselves or someone else
  • The abuse (or threatened abuse) of law or the legal process


refers to intentionally distorting the truth in order to get someone else (who relies on that version of the truth) to surrender a legal right or give up something valuable that belongs to them.

Signs of Human Trafficking

It is sometimes said that human trafficking is an "invisible crime," because its signs are not always obvious to the untrained eye. However, there are some indicators that may serve as a tip-off, particularly when they appear in combination. 

Suspect that something is amiss if an individual:

  • Lacks identification documents or travel documents, lives and works in the same place and/or lacks freedom of movement
  • Seems to be restricted from socializing, attending religious services or contacting family
  • Seems to have been deprived of basic life necessities, such as food, water, sleep or medical care
  • Shows signs of having been abused or physically assaulted. Such signs range from the more obvious, such as broken bones, to the more subtle, such as branding or tattooing
  • Seems submissive or fearful in the presence of others
  • Seems not to control his or her schedule
  • Seems to lack concrete short or long-term plans
  • Seems to lack knowledge about the place where he or she lives
  • Appears to date much older, abusive or controlling men

Resources of Support and Assistance

It is import to remember that human trafficking can occur anywhere. If you think someone is a victim of human trafficking, contact your local police department so that an inquiry can be made.  Most police departments have contacts at the state and federal levels to help in these investigations. 

If you would like to stay annoymous, most police departments have a tip hotline or annoymous phone number you can call to leave information.  You can also call this toll free number 1(866)347-2423 which will put you in touch with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency which is a branch of the Department of Homeland Security.

You can also go online to         

Additional Sources of Information