Facts on Human Trafficking

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Human trafficking affects both adults and children, men and women, and people from all parts of Texas, the United States, and around the world.

There are four major types of trafficking:

Adult Sex Trafficking - Trafficking of adults for sex by force, fraud, or coercion in strip clubs, brothels, massage parlors, street prostitution, or internet prostitution

Adult Labor Trafficking - Trafficking adults for labor by force, fraud, or coercion into industries, such as agriculture, food service, manufacturing, domestic servitude, or hospitality

Child Sex Trafficking - Trafficking children, under the age of 18, by any means into the commercial sex industry

Child Labor Trafficking - Trafficking children, under the age of 18, by force, fraud or coercion into industries such as agriculture, food service, manufacturing, domestic servitude, or hospitality

There is no one particular look to a trafficker. Traffickers are people who are willing to treat other people like objects or commodities that they can buy, sell, or exploit for their own benefit. They can be:

  • People of all races

  • People of both genders

  • Family members

  • Peers

  • Employers

  • Gang and cartel members

  • Strip club owners/managers

  • Intimate partners

  • Neighbors and friends

  • Online acquaintances

A child, under the age of 18, is a victim of sex trafficking, if they are being prostituted by someone other than themselves, regardless of whether the child complied with the trafficker’s demands or actively resisted.

Sex trafficking of children can be completed by any means and does not require the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

Some of the more common methods of recruitment of children include:

  • A promise of romance, love, or acceptance,

  • Offers of cash, luxury items, a place to stay, independence or a glamorous lifestyle,

  • The persuasion of a peer who is already involved,

  • Meeting the immediate need of a child for food, clothing, shelter, or love

  • Taking advantage of a vulnerability or a desperate situation

  • Flattery, lies, manipulation, deception

  • Exploiting an existing position of power

  • Making an offer that is too good to be true

  • Establishing relationship with false or tenuous connection

Myth:  We live in a slavery free world.

Reality:  There are more people enslaved today than there were at the time of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  There are 25 million people enslaved worldwide with another 15 million in forced marriages.  (See the International Labour Organization 2017 report.)

Myth:  Trafficking is a crime all about movement, immigration, and 18-wheelers.

Reality:  Smuggling and Trafficking are two distinct crimes.  Smuggling is a crime against the border where someone enters a country without the appropriate documentation, typically by paying someone else to smuggle them across the border.  It requires transport and movement from one country to another, and both the person coming in without permission as well as the person bringing them are committing a crime. 

Trafficking on the other hand does not require movement.  You can be trafficked in your own home, and you can be trafficked in your own country by a fellow U.S. citizen.  For example: A mother who brings people to her home to have sex with her underage child is trafficking the child even though the child never leaves the house.  Only the trafficker is committing a crime when they exploit someone else for forced labor or forced sex.  

Myth:  This doesn’t happen in my hometown.

Reality: Trafficking is occurring in cities and towns all across Texas.

To learn how to spot trafficking, check out the "Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking" training video above.

There are several red flags that someone is being forced into labor trafficking, including:

  • Third-party control of schedule and social interaction

  • Evidence of violence: bruises, swelling, scarring, etc.

  • Works excessively long or unusual hours

  • Living where the individual works

  • Living in an area that is not zoned for residential

  • Transported to and from work by employer

  •  Housing, food, and hygiene products all being supplied by the employer

  • Not being paid on a regular schedule

  • Recruited through false promises related to citizenship or working conditions

  • Inability to speak English

  • Identification documents or money are being held by a third-party

  • Malnutrition, dehydration, exhaustion

  • Untreated disease or dental and/or vision problems

  • Chronic pain — e.g., back pain, muscle strains, respiratory issues, etc.

Children can be victims of sex trafficking. Important red flags to look for include:

  • Changes in school attendance, habits, friend groups, vocabulary, demeanor, and attitude

  • Sudden appearance of luxury items — e.g., manicures, designer clothes, purses

  • Truancy (absence) from school

  • Sexually provocative clothing

  • Tattoos or branding

  • Refillable gift cards

  • Multiple phones or social media accounts

  • Lying about the existence of social media accounts

  • Provocative pictures posted online or stored on the phone

  • Unexplained injuries

  • Social interaction and schedule being strictly controlled by someone else

  • Isolation from family, friends, and community

Important red flags to look for:

  • Contents of the vehicle/location

  • Hotel receipts

  • Drug-store receipts

  • Lingerie

  • Condoms

  • Female personal hygiene items in a place of business

  • High-end clothing recently purchased

  • Hotel keys

  • Rolls of money

  • Prepaid credit cards

  • Tattooing/branding

  • Lack of eye contact

  • Bruises, swelling, and/or redness

  • Third-party control of the person’s schedule, identifying documents, money, and/or travel

  • Sex ads linked to the individual’s phone number

  • Permit or license for something other than actual business

  • Male clientele

  • Location may have a guarded entrance

  • Open at unusual hours compared to the businesses on either side

  • Cameras both inside and outside

  • Location storefront may be curtained off/blocked, etc.

  • Location may be locked and opened only when someone at the door with a phone

  • “Employees” may be ferried to and from work by the “spa” or may live at the location

  • Men walking through the parking lot, seem to be confused, and/or talking on their cell phones

  • Condoms in the parking lot, drains, or pipes

* The Information on this page was sourced from https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/initiatives/human-trafficking

  • Unfortunately, truck stops remain a frequent location of trafficking crimes. While truck stops are not naturally hives of crime, they are, unfortunately, convenient and central locations for traffickers to move throughout the United States.

  • Why are Truck Stops Used for Human Trafficking?

    • Truck stops are conveniently positioned across the United States.​

    • Truck stops are often located in remote areas.

    • A male customer base dominates truck stops.

  • For more information on "Trucking and Human Trafficking", visit https://www.lanierlawfirm.com/trucking-and-human-trafficking/ 

  • For information on the nonprofit "Truckers Against Trafficking" visit https://truckersagainsttrafficking.org/