Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in
persons or modern-day slavery, is a crime that involves compelling or 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 commercial sex is human trafficking,
regardless of whether any form of force, fraud, or coercion was used.
There is no single profile of a trafficking
victim. Victims of human trafficking can be anyone—regardless of race, color, national origin,
disability, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status,
education level, or citizenship status.
Although there is no defining characteristic
that all human trafficking victims share, traffickers around the world frequently prey on
individuals who are poor, vulnerable, living in an unsafe or unstable situation, or are in search
of a better life. Trafficking 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. In the United States, trafficking victims can be American
or foreign citizens. Some of the most vulnerable populations for trafficking in the United
States include American Indian/Alaska Native communities,
lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-questioning individuals, individuals with disabilities,
undocumented migrants, runaway and homeless youth, temporary guest-workers and low-income
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 street
prostitution, illicit massage parlors, cantinas, brothels, escort services, and online advertising.
Trafficking situations can be found across the United States.
Just as there is no one type of trafficking
victim, perpetrators of this crime also vary. Traffickers can be foreign nationals or U.S.
citizens, family members, partners, acquaintances, and strangers. They can act alone or as part of
an organized criminal enterprise. People often incorrectly assume that all traffickers are males;
however, the United States has prosecuted cases against women traffickers. Traffickers can be
pimps, gang members, diplomats, business owners, labor brokers, and farm, factory, and company