- Human Trafficking Indicators (PDF - 2 pages, 415 KB)
Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Victims are trafficked into the international sex trade and into forced labor situations throughout the world. Many of these victims are lured from their homes with false promises of well-paying jobs; instead, they are forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic servitude, farm or factory labor or other types of forced labor.
Understanding Means of Coercion
Victims often find themselves in a foreign country and cannot speak the language. Traffickers often take away the victims’ travel and identity documents and tell victims that if they attempt to escape, the victims or their families back home will be harmed or that the vic-tims’ families will assume the debt. We recognize that men, women and children that are encountered in brothels, sweat shops, massage parlors, agricultural fields and other labor markets may be forced or coerced into those situations and potentially are trafficking victims.
- Is the victim in possession of identification and travel documents; if not, who has control of the documents?
- Was the victim coached on what to say to law enforcement and immigration officials?
- Was the victim recruited for one purpose and forced to engage in some other job?
- Is the victim’s salary being garnished to pay off a smuggling fee? (Paying off a smuggling fee alone is not considered trafficking.)
- Was the victim forced to perform sexual acts?
- Does the victim have freedom of movement?
- Has the victim or family been threatened with harm if the victim attempts to escape?
- Has the victim been threatened with deportation or law enforcement action?
- Has the victim been harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care or other life necessities?
- Can the victim freely contact friends or family?
- Is the victim a juvenile engaged in commercial sex?
- Is the victim allowed to socialize or attend religious services?
Trafficking vs. Smuggling
Human Trafficking is defined as:
- 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
- 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.
Human Smuggling is defined as:
- The importation of people into the U.S. involving deliberate evasion of immigration laws. This offense includes bringing illegal aliens into the U.S., as well as the unlawful transportation and harboring of aliens already in the United States.
These are not interchangeable terms:
- Smuggling is transportation-based
- Trafficking is exploitation-based
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Tip Leads to Rescue of 85 Trafficking Victims
In New York, Peruvian migrants were subjected to forced labor and debt bondage. A husband and wife were sentenced to 11 and 15 years, respectively, for Conspiracy to Commit Forced Labor and Document Servitude, Conspiracy to Bring In and Harbor Aliens and Engaging in Extortionate Credit Transactions.
Trafficker Arrested in Cameroon
In Baltimore, a 10-year-old girl from Cameroon was brought to the U.S. for the purpose of domestic servitude and subjected to physical abuse and isolation. The trafficker fled the U.S. and was later arrested in Cameroon. The trafficker was brought back to the U.S. to serve a 17-year sentence for Involuntary Servitude and Harboring for Financial Gain. The trafficker was ordered to pay $100,000 restitution to the victim.
Trafficker Sentenced to 23 Years
In Texas, four Mexican women were rescued from traffickers who raped them and forced the victims to cook and clean for them. Eight defendants were convicted of human smuggling/trafficking violations. The lead defendant was sentenced to 23 years for Involuntary Servitude.
Sex Traffickers Sentenced to 40 years
In Los Angeles, 15 women and girls were forced by a family-run human trafficking organization into prostitution. As a result of the investigation, seven Guatemalan and two Mexican nationals were found guilty of conspiracy, sex trafficking of children by force, and importation and harboring of illegal aliens for purposes of prostitution and sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from two to 40 years depending on their level of involvement.
Traffickers Arrested in Hair Braiding Salon
In Newark, 20 young women and girls from Togo and Ghana were brought to the United States through a visa scheme, forced to work in hair braiding salons under appalling conditions, and subject to physical abuse and threats. Six traffickers from Togo entered guilty pleas or were convicted by a jury for offenses involving forced labor, conspiracy, document servitude, visa fraud, transportation of a minor across state lines to engage in criminal sexual activity, and alien smuggling.
Cooperation with Mexican Law Enforcement Rescues 24 Victims
In New York, an investigation led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in collaboration with the government of Mexico, targeted a trafficking organization that smuggled Mexican women into the United States and then subjected them to commercial sexual exploitation. Twenty-four women were forced into prostitution at brothels on the East Coast through threats of violence against them and their children. The principal traffickers were sentenced to terms of imprisonment from 25 to 50 years each. The mother of the main defendants was arrested in Mexico and later extradited to the United States where she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her involvement in the scheme.
Russian, Ukrainian and Czech Labor Trafficking Victims Rescued in Detroit
In Detroit, a concerned citizen reported women being forced to work against their will as exotic dancers. Ten women were brought to the United States through a visa fraud scheme where they were forced to work as dancers through threats of violence, sexual abuse, and threats of jail and deportation. The investigation resulted in the arrest and indictment of nine defendants. All of the defendants pleaded guilty and their sentences ranged from probation to 14 years imprisonment.
Domestic Servitude Victim Rescued on Long Island
On Long Island, ICE agents arrested a husband and wife as a result of a domestic servitude investigation. The couple was alleged to have held two Indonesian females in their residence where they were forced to perform domestic services. They were found guilty by a jury of forced labor, peonage, document servitude, harboring aliens and conspiracy. The wife was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment and her husband was sentenced to three years. The jury ordered that their residence, valued at $1.5 million, be criminally forfeited in order to assist with victim restitution.
Role of ICE
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement works with its law enforcement partners to dismantle the global criminal infrastructure engaged in human trafficking. ICE accomplishes this mission by making full use of authorities and expertise, stripping away assets and profit incentive, collaborating with U.S. and foreign partners to attack networks worldwide and working in partnership with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to identify, rescue and provide assistance to trafficking victims.
ICE recognizes that in order to successfully investigate and prosecute traffickers, victims must be stable and free from fear and intimidation to be effective witnesses. Equal value is placed on the identification and rescue of victims and the prosecution of traffickers. ICE has more than 300 collateral duty victim/witness coordinators who work with NGOs to assist in the provision of victim services. Short-term immigration relief is provided to certified victims of trafficking in the form of Continued Presence (CP).