Human Trafficking in the United States

Terrorists and Transnational Criminal Organizations utilize Human Trafficking to fund their operations and profit from this form of slavery. CTG takes a look at human trafficking in the United States and discusses the signs that can help someone determine if a person is being trafficked.

Human Trafficking, simply put, is modern-day slavery. It involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Victims of human trafficking very rarely come forward to seek help which is due to multiple reasons including language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement. Trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings. Traffickers will use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. People who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability are the characteristics traffickers look for in a victim.

Modern Slavery Worldwide Infographic

Many relate prostitution and trafficking as one, it is not always so, however, many who are forced into prostitution have gotten there from trafficking. $99 billion of human trafficking’s $150 billion profit comes from sexual exploitation. There were 3,718 sex trafficking cases reported in 2018 according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH). This is a decrease from the previous year which was over 6,000, however, the decrease does not mean trafficking is going away. It is still at a high rate and their profits are still enough for trafficking to be a popular income. Sex traffickers frequently target victims and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry for their own profit.

Human trafficking takes place locally in a favorite nail salon or restaurant; in a neighborhood home or popular hotel; on a city street or rural farm. The most popular recruitment tactic for sex trafficking is an intimate partner and/ or marriage proposition and for labor trafficking, it is simply a job offer. Children in institutional care, including government-run facilities, can be easy targets for traffickers. This is due to the simple fact that these facilities are unable to meet every child’s need for emotional support that is typically received from family members or consistent caretakers This lack of support are viewed as an advantage to get a child more easily to leave. In 2018 the most popular venue for labor trafficking was domestic work and for sex trafficking, it was Illicit business or spa business.

Cases of trafficking often take place with children and lower income areas because the children do not know better and are looking to make money. The children can often be left alone while their parents are busy working to provide for their families. Many homeless shelters are canvassed by human traffickers, a child could leave the shelter and walk down the street and someone in a car will drive by and say they have a job available and that they could make tips. A child would jump for this opportunity because they are in need of the money for food or clothing and they do not know any better. The traffickers psychologically manipulate these young people by being a parent or a lover figure, in order to gain their trust and make them emotionally vulnerable.

Human trafficking is not just limited to nail salons or involve lower-income areas, major sports events are also a popular place. The NFL Superbowl is often been dubbed the biggest sex trafficking event. The reason behind this because hundreds of thousands of cashed-up sports fans descend on the host city to celebrate the big game and, in many cases, indulge in sex services that use Super Bowl as their hook. Atlanta, Georgia, which was the location of this years super bowl, is also one of the biggest hubs for sex trafficking. In an 11-day operation The FBI, which worked alongside Metro Atlanta’s Child Task Force (MATCH) 169 arrest were made, all of which related to sex trafficking. Of the 169 arrests made, 26 were of traffickers, 34 were individuals accused of trying to engage in sex acts with minors. There was also nine reported adult victims and a further nine alleged juvenile sex trafficking victims. Hotel staff and flight attendants, who are often regarded as the frontline defense against human trafficking, also stepped up their efforts to identify victims. Massive deliveries of bars of soap and makeup wipes were also dropped off at hotels around Atlanta the weekend prior to the Superbowl bearing a message to potential victims and a phone number to get help.

California is the state with the highest amount of human trafficking according to statistics from the NHTH. It gets so much trafficking because of its proximity to international borders, the number of ports and airports, significant immigrant population, and large economy that includes industries that attract forced labor. Due to a large number of people coming and going from the state people can be easily trafficked without much notice, which leads to profitable, low-risk and high-reward scheme. California has taken steps to fight back against human trafficking and introduced bills to help businesses with aid in the prevention of trafficking.

In 2013, California enacted Senate Bill 1193, this added Section 52.6 to the California Civil Code. This section states that specified businesses and other establishments are required to post a notice created by the Attorney General’s Office which includes information related to support and services available to human trafficked victims. This notice must also be posted in a direct place for the public to view fully. In 2017, two more bills were made, Senate Bill 225 and Assembly Bill 260. Senate Bill 225 requires a specified phone number to be on the notice that victims can text for help and Assembly Bill 260 made it so hotels, motels, bed and breakfast inns are also required to post the notice in their business.

There are many warning signs that are important to be aware of since human trafficking is hidden in plain sight. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline the common work and living conditions are: A person is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes, Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp/manager, is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips, works excessively long and/or unusual hours, is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work, owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off, was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work, has high-security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.). Victims of human trafficking also display poor mental health and/or abnormal behavior such as: being fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid, they exhibit unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement and tent to avoid eye contact. Another area where warning signs can be found is physical health. Signs of poor physical health can be a person lacks medical care and/or is denied medical services by their employer, they appear malnourished or shows signs of repeated exposure to harmful chemicals or they shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture. Other warning signs include: has few or no personal possessions, is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account, is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport), is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating), claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address, lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or of what city he/she is in, loss of sense of time and has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story.

A team of researchers from George Washington University and Temple University developed an app in 2015 to help combat human trafficking. TraffickCam allows users to upload images of hotel rooms from various hotel locations. This database would create an outlet for investigators to search efficiently in order to contribute to an ongoing investigation. TraffickCam is downloadable and free to Android and Apple users.

CTG helps prevent Human Trafficking by keeping records of such related incidents both domestically and internationally. Once this information is gathered, further investigation can be done on a case by case base to produce actionable intelligence to support law enforcement with critical information. In addition, CTG can accumulate a database of incidents and compile trends to better support human trafficking cases. Furthermore, the advancement of technology has created a new safe haven for illicit activity on the dark web. CTG, through our Threat Hunter program has joined the fight by monitoring such matters and finding and targeting illicit activities to disrupt human trafficking operations in the cyber world. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


1 What Is Human Trafficking?, Department of Homeland Security, April 2019,

2 Hotline Statistics, National Human Trafficking Hotline, April 2019,

3 Sex Trafficking, National Human Trafficking Hotline, April 2019,

4 2018 TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT, United States Department of State, June 2018,

5 Hotline Statistics, National Human Trafficking Hotline, April 2019,

6 2018 TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT, United States Department of State, June 2018,

7 Hotline Statistics, National Human Trafficking Hotline, April 2019,

8 Hotline Statistics, National Human Trafficking Hotline, April 2019,

9 JBSA Art, Joint Base San Antonio,

10 The dark story behind the Super Bowl most sports fans ignore,, February 2019, 7fb35f3477da3dd7a3f8f6bd5b53ffe4


12 The dark story behind the Super Bowl most sports fans ignore,, February 2019, 7fb35f3477da3dd7a3f8f6bd5b53ffe4

13 Hotline Statistics, National Human Trafficking Hotline, April 2019,

14 Human Trafficking, Office of the Attorney General California, April 2019,

15 Recognizing the Signs, National Human Trafficking Hotline, April 2019,

16 About, TraffickCam, April 2019

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