Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking

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Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes that ICE investigates. In its worst manifestation, human trafficking is akin to modern-day slavery. Victims pay to be illegally transported into the United States only to find themselves in the thrall of traffickers. They are forced into prostitution, involuntary labor and other forms of servitude to repay debts – often entry in the United States. In certain cases, the victims are mere children. They find themselves surrounded by an unfamiliar culture and language without identification documents, fearing for their lives and the lives of their families.

ICE is serious about ending human trafficking.

ICE relies on tips from the public to dismantle these organizations. ICE encourages you to keep your eyes and ears open to suspicious activity. Trafficking victims are often hidden in plain sight, voiceless and scared.

If you notice suspicious activity in your community, call ICE’s Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or report tips online.

Human Trafficking Indicators

Human trafficking indicators include:

  • Does the victim possess identification and travel documents? If not, who has control of these documents?
  • Did the victim travel to a destination country for a specific job or purpose and is victim engaged in different employment than expected?
  • Is victim forced to perform sexual acts as part of employment?
  • Is the victim a juvenile engaged in commercial sex?
  • Does the victim owe money to an employer or does the employer hold wages?
  • Did the employer instruct the victim on what to say to law enforcement or immigration officials?
  • Can the victim freely leave employment or the situation?
  • Are there guards at work/harboring site or video cameras to monitor and ensure no one escapes?
  • Does the victim have freedom of movement? Can they freely contact family and friends? Can they socialize or attend religious services?

Trafficking in Persons

Trafficking in Persons 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; or
  • 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.

Recent Investigations

  • Fifteen members of a sex trafficking organization have been charged with forcing at least 17 young Mexican women into prostitution in New York.
  • Thirty-four individuals affiliated with a Somali gang were charged with sex trafficking seven young girls across state lines in Minnesota and Tennessee.
  • Four Togolese nationals were convicted of labor trafficking in New Jersey. These individuals brought 13 adult females and seven juvenile females to the United States from Togo, Africa and forced them to work in hair braiding salons.

Public Awareness

ICE and DHS both have human trafficking awareness campaigns.

Support for Victims

ICE recognizes that severe consequences of human trafficking continue even after the perpetrators have been arrested and held accountable. ICE’s Victim Assistance Program helps coordinate services to help human trafficking victims, such as crisis intervention, counseling and emotional support.

For more information, call 1-866-872-4973.

Project STAMP (Smuggler and Trafficker Assets, Monies and Proceeds)

Project STAMP attacks human smuggling and human trafficking organizations from an aggressive anti-money laundering stance. ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) follows money trails to identify key members of criminal organizations involved in human smuggling/human trafficking activity. Seizure of these assets is crucial to shutting down these organizations. Read More

Our Partners

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

With more than 42,000 frontline CBP officers and Border Patrol agents protecting nearly 7,000 miles of land border and 327 ports of entry—including official crossings by land, air, and sea—CBP is uniquely situated to deter and disrupt human trafficking.

Learn more about CBP anti-human trafficking efforts

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

USCIS helps protect victims of human trafficking and other crimes by providing immigration relief. Two types of immigration relief for victims of human trafficking and other crimes are available through USCIS: T Nonimmigrant Status (T Visa) and U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa).

Learn more about USCIS efforts to protect victims

Recent News

2/13/2013 Alexandria, VA Maryland woman pleads guilty to recruiting teen in sex trafficking ring

2/12/2013 San Diego, CA Man sentenced to 12 years for child sex trafficking

2/11/2013 Savannah, GA 13 additional defendants charged in Operation Dark Night

2/11/2013 Sioux Falls, SD Chicago man found guilty of multiple sex trafficking charges in South Dakota

2/8/2013 Richmond, VA North Carolina woman pleads guilty to operating interstate prostitution organization

2/7/2013 Los Angeles, CA Key player in large-scale human smuggling ring sentenced to 8 years in prison

read more