Human traffickers are very good at spotting new “product” to sell. They do not usually operate on simple tactics. To make a profit, their schemes are typically sophisticated, carefully matched to the type of victim they are attempting to traffic.
Common to all methods is the manipulation and exploitation of victims’ vulnerabilities, according to the Polaris Project.
Whether the trafficker is a single individual or an elaborate criminal network, they tend to blend in because they belong to the same cultural, ethnic, and national background as their victims.
Blending in like this makes it easy for the trafficker to infiltrate a junior high or high school as a “Romeo”—someone who scouts for students who appear to be struggling emotionally or socially.
Alternatively, they roam the local malls, skating rinks, or playgrounds. They befriend their targets, enticing them with the appeal of friendship, compassion, possibly romance.
As part of this grooming process, they isolate their targets from family and friends. When the courting phase is complete, it is quite simple for the trafficker to lure the victim away, using threats, violence, or lies to control them and force them into commercial sex or other exploitative work.
In other scenarios, a trafficker may pose as someone willing and able to help a foreign national obtain work and travel to the job destination. They end up owing their “recruiters” large sums of money for their recruitment and travel services. The trafficker will confiscate the victims’ travel documents, identification, and money until they work off their debts as domestic workers, farmers, construction workers, or prostitutes.
Small children’s vulnerabilities could be as deep as trouble at home or as simple as wanting to see puppies or eat candy the trafficker promises them. Of course, their small size and innocence are their greatest vulnerabilities—both of which are easily manipulated.
According to the Polaris Project, human traffickers maintain control over their victims throughout their trafficked “career” by:
The ultimate goal of every human trafficker is to exploit and enslave. As players in an industry that generates $150 billion a year in profits, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), these criminals set out to accomplish their goals by forcing their victims into the commercial sex industry ($99 billion), with the remaining one third of the industry’s profits stemming from traffickers forcing their victims to act as laborers for little or no pay, as domestic workers, as well as agricultural and other forms of laborers ($51 billion).
The ILO reports that women and girls are typically exploited sexually and in domestic work, and men and boys are pushed into being economic exploitation, with jobs in construction, agriculture, and mining.
Traffickers benefit from a profit model that many businesses find irresistible. Within various industries, the annual profits gained from forced labor are astounding. According to the ILO:
Sex and human traffickers do what they need to in order to obtain and harbor victims, including colluding with third parties like truck stops, hotels, and motels. We will not allow traffickers and the businesses that enable them to hold profit above human lives. The attorneys at Newsome Melton help victims hold the businesses, such as hotels and truck stops, liable for the victimization of those who have been trafficked.
For help holding an enabling business liable, call (888) 808-5977.