By: U.S. Department of Justice on January 28, 2023
Human trafficking is a crime that involves coercing a person to provide labor or services, or to engage in commercial sex acts. The coercion can be subtle or overt, physical or psychological. Exploitation of a minor for sex is human trafficking, regardless of whether any form of force, fraud, or coercion was used.
Traffickers prey on individuals whose vulnerabilities, including poverty, limited English proficiency, or lack of lawful immigration status, are exacerbated by lack of stable, safe housing, and limited economic and educational opportunities. Victims are deceived by false promises of love, a good job, or a stable life and are lured or forced into situations where they are made to work under deplorable conditions with little or no pay.
Victims can be found in legal and illegal labor industries, including child care, elder care, the drug trade, massage parlors, nail and hair salons, restaurants, hotels, factories, and farms. In some cases, victims are hidden behind doors in domestic servitude in a home. Others are in plain view, interact with people on a daily basis, and are forced to work under extreme circumstances in exotic dance clubs, factories, or restaurants. Victims can be exploited for commercial sex in numerous contexts, including on the street, in illicit massage parlors, cantinas, brothels, or through escort services and online advertising.
Traffickers can be family members, partners, acquaintances, and strangers. They act alone or as part of an organized criminal enterprise. Traffickers can be pimps, gang members, diplomats, business owners, labor brokers, and farm, factory, and company owners. People incorrectly assume that all traffickers are males; however, the U.S. has prosecuted female trafficker’s.
If you or someone you know is a victim of Human Trafficking, contact your local law enforcement agency or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888. You can reach the Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in more than 200 languages. All calls are confidential and answered live by highly trained Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates.