Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit. In some cases, traffickers' trick, defraud or physically force victims into selling sex. In others, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions. It is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world.
A common misconception about human trafficking is that it does not happen in the United States. This is false, as the United States is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking. It is estimated that 199,000 incidents occur within the United States every year.
In 2019, the United States had 11,500 human trafficking cases reported. The most common type of trafficking was sex trafficking (8,248 reports), with the most common venues being illicit massage/spa businesses and pornography.
However, human trafficking also happens in legitimate US bars, restaurants, or clubs selling food and alcohol while exploiting victims for both sex and labor behind the scenes. Victims must provide customers with flirtatious companionship to entice them to purchase high-priced alcoholic beverages, often with an explicit or implicit agreement for commercial sex acts. Some bars and cantinas are entirely run by organized human trafficking networks. Many strip clubs and go-go clubs are associated with this type of sex and labor trafficking. Frequent victims are women and girls 14 to 29, with some as young as 11 years old.
California consistently has the highest number of human trafficking cases in the United States with 1,507 reported in 2019. 1,118 of these cases were sex trafficking cases, 158 were labor trafficking, and 69 were both sex and labor. The remaining cases were not specified. Most of the sex trafficking cases reported in California were illicit massage and spa businesses and hotel or motel based. Of the cases reported, 1,290 were female, 149 were male, and 10 were gender minorities.
California is followed by Texas with 1,080 cases, Florida with 896 cases, and New York with 454 cases. These four states have the highest populations in the U.S., which can explain why their numbers of cases are significantly higher than other states. However, these areas also have very high immigrant populations, which, when combined with certain industries such as agriculture, creates a prime environment for forced labor.
*Based off data from 2019
Human trafficking is a huge issue facing our community, and we can’t stop it alone. We need the help of passionate and dedicated individuals that want to make a difference. Find out how you can help in our fight against human trafficking.
Helping a victim of human trafficking isn’t always easy. If you or a loved one is in need of help or has suffered from human trafficking, we want to help. Fill out our online form and we will reach out with assistance.