What is Human Trafficking?

The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose including forced labor or sexual exploitation.


Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past, human traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars in profits by trapping millions of people in horrific situations around the world, including here in the U.S. Traffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other manipulative tactics to force people to engage in commercial sex or to provide labor or services against their will. While more research is needed on the scope of human trafficking, below are a few key statistics:

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally.

Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.

The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary dramatically. Many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces or manipulates them into prostitution. Others are lured in with false promises of a job, such as modeling or dancing. Some are forced to sell sex by their parents or other family members. They may be involved in a trafficking situation for a few days or weeks, or may remain in the same trafficking situation for years.

Victims of sex trafficking can be U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, children, and LGBTQ individuals. Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers, including runaway and homeless youth, as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war, or social discrimination.

Sex trafficking occurs in a range of venues including fake massage businesses, via online ads or escort services, in residential brothels, on the street or at truck stops, or at hotels and motels.

Labor trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally.

Labor traffickers – including recruiters, contractors, employers, and others –use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, or other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will in many different industries.

Labor traffickers often make false promises of a high-paying job or exciting education or travel opportunities to lure people into horrendous working conditions. Yet, victims find that the reality of their jobs proves to be far different than promised and must frequently work long hours for little to no pay. Their employers exert such physical or psychological control – including physical abuse, debt bondage, confiscation of passports or money – that the victim believes they have no other choice but to continue working for that employer.

U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, children, and LGBTQ individuals can be victims of labor trafficking. Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers. Immigration status, recruitment debt, isolation, poverty, and a lack of strong labor protections are just some of the vulnerabilities that can lead to labor trafficking.

Labor trafficking occurs in numerous industries in the U.S. and globally. In the United States, common types of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farmworkers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions. Labor trafficking has also been reported in door-to-door sales crews, restaurants, construction work, carnivals, and even health and beauty services.

Key Statistics

The Growing Global Human Trafficking Industry is valued at $31.6 billion annually.

HTAP shares:

TIPS Trafficker Recruiting Techniques:

  • Traffickers are master manipulators.  They are experts at persuading you to do things you never thought you would do.
  • If an older guy tells you are mature for your age, he probably wants something you not old enough to give him.
  • Traffickers will tell you that parents, teachers, and trusted friends don’t understand or appreciate you.
  • If you are with friends, traffickers know how to get yu to leave your friends.  Talk to your friends about trafficking so you can look out for each other.
  • You can’t tell a trafficker by his or her looks, age or clothes.
  • The people you care about the most will be the first to help you when you are in trouble so the traffickers will try to get you to turn against them first.
  • If you look like you need something: help, directions, a ride, money-traffickers know that the best time to approach you.  Think before you accept anything from a stranger.


  1. Lack of Control:  Youth or adult with controlling companion.  Restricted contact with others.  Unusually high security measures exist in the work and/or living location.  Not in control of their money or possessions.  Has very few possessions.
  2. Poor Mental Health: Abnormal Behavior: is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid. Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after brining up law enforcement or outside assistance.  Avoids eye contact.
  3. Poor Physical Health: Lacks health care.  Appears malnourished.  Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture.
  4. Lacks Basic Knowledge: Claims of just visiting and inability to claridy where he/she is staying/address.  Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or does not know what city he/she is in.  Loss of sense of time.  Has numerous inconsistencies of his/her story.
  5. Unique Physical Traits: Branding tattoos.  May be lying about their age.  Appears to be abusing substances.


  • Educate yourself & inform your family, children and neighbors.
  • Get involved.
  • Volunteer.
  • Organize a community awareness event or fundraiser.
  • Inspire your church or service club to take action.
  • Contact your state representatives and insist on the implementation of a mandatory reporting system.

Get involved with the SWFL Human Trafficking Organization.  Visit their website:  http://swfl-humantrafficking.org/ and see the amazing program they have.  Feel free to give them a call at (239)691-1128.



Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888