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By working with advocacy groups like CAST, we must find ways to improve how our government assists victims of human trafficking and prevent future cases.Ted Lieu, U.S. Representative

About Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is the exploitation of human beings through force, fraud or coercion for the purposes of commercial sex or forced labor. Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was present.

The Federal Definition

(A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or

(B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

(Source: Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000)

Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise of the 21st century, an estimated $150 billion industry that is second only to drugs in terms of organized crime. (Source: International Labour Organization 2014)

States like California, Florida and New York are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking because of factors such as: proximity to international borders, numerous ports and airports, significant immigrant populations and large economies that include industries that attract forced labor.

Los Angeles is a top point of entry into this country for victims of slavery and trafficking. The diverse communities of this sprawling city make it easier to hide and move victims from place to place, making it very difficult for law enforcement to locate potential survivors.

Traffickers do not discriminate based on gender, class, age or race. Victims may be highly skilled and may come to the U.S. on legitimate visas with the promise of lawful work. They are enslaved not only through physical restraint, but also through coercion, fear or intimidation. In today’s global economy, workers can be enslaved by threats of deportation, debt bondage or merely a lack of viable alternatives. The resulting exploitation is essentially a modern form of slavery.

Common Venues/Industries for Labor Trafficking

  • Domestic Work (e.g., cleaning homes, childcare, elderly care, etc.)
  • Hotel & Restaurant Service (e.g., hospitality services, housekeeping, dishwashing, etc.)
  • Manufacturing (e.g., food processing, making clothing, assembling toys, etc.)
  • Agriculture (e.g., growing food)
  • Health & Beauty Services (e.g., hair braiding, nail salons, etc.)
  • Forced Peddling (e.g., magazine crews)
  • Forced Selling and/or Cultivation of Drugs

Common Venues/Industries For Sex Trafficking

  • Spas and Massage Parlors
  • Residential or Commercial Brothels
  • Escort Companies
  • Exotic Dancing/Strip Joints
  • Pornography
  • Truck Stops

If a victim does successfully escape and stay in the U.S., their unfamiliarity with local language, geography and legal protections can leave them helpless on the streets – vulnerable to falling prey to their traffickers once again. With no money, no documents to prove their citizenship and limited skills, they are unable to earn a living and truly find freedom and independence. A victim’s situation can seem hopeless, until they find out that there are organizations like CAST that were created to help them escape this cycle of vulnerability.

Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Not all indicators listed below are present in every human trafficking situation. The presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.

Common Indicators of Human Trafficking

  • Injuries or signs of physical, psychological or sexual abuse
  • Physical threats, threats of deportation and/or threats of harm to family members
  • Having to work excessive hours or when sick
  • Little pay, no pay or working to pay off a debt
  • Isolation
  • Restricted or scripted communication
  • Inhumane living conditions
  • No ID documentation

Your safety and the safety of the victim is paramount. Do not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to any suspicion. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking. To report tips regarding potential human trafficking cases, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) at 1-888-373-7888.

888-KEY-2-FREE | 888-539-2373