Facts on Human Trafficking

What are the types of human trafficking?

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

What do traffickers look like?

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

Red Flags for Labor Trafficking

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.

Red Flags for Child Sex Trafficking

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

Red Flags for Adult Sex Trafficking

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

What are common myths about human trafficking?

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.