Identifying the Crime of Human Trafficking
Law enforcement officers should keep in mind the following scenarios may involve some form of human trafficking:
- Prostitution rings
- Operations of massage parlors, strip clubs, etc.
- Domestic abuse
- Poorly examined 911 calls
- Vice raids where foreign nationals are encountered
- Encounters with migrant workers where a foreman or supervisor attempts to keep the group away from or out of contact with law enforcement officers
- Brawls between people in which money is owed
- Crimes involving immigrant children in situations such as prostitution or forced labor
Law enforcement officers may encounter the perpetrators or traffickers who will offer alleged explanations of the situation. In these cases, it is important for the first responding officer to note the following about others at the scene of the crime who may be victims of human trafficking:
- What are their living conditions?
- What are their working conditions?
- Are there indications of restriction of movement (e.g., are they allowed to leave the premises)?
- Are they forced to make frequent moves?
- Are there any behavioral indicators of severe dependency (e.g. submissive or fearful behavior)?
- Who is in physical possession of their legal documents of identification?
- Who insists on providing information to law enforcement?
- Are they in the country legally?
Techniques Traffickers Use
Traffickers use various techniques to keep survivors enslaved. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key; however, the more frequent practice is to use less obvious techniques, including but not limited to:
- Debt bondage: financial obligations, honor-bound to satisfy debt
- Isolation from the public: limiting contact with outsiders and making sure any contact is monitored or superficial in nature
- Isolation from family members and members of their ethnic and religious community
- Confiscation of passports, visas and/or identification documents
- Use or threat of violence toward survivors and/or families of survivors
- The threat of shaming survivors by exposing circumstances to family
- Telling survivors that they will be imprisoned or deported if they contact authorities
- Control of the survivors’ money
The result of such techniques is to instill fear in survivors. The survivors’ isolation is further exacerbated because many do not speak English and are from countries where law enforcement is corrupt and feared.
Traffickers may also violate multiple state and local laws including murder, assault, kidnapping, sexual assault, battery, false imprisonment, prostitution, pandering, and promoting prostitution.
If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the Tapestri office at 404-299-2185. If you are outside the state of Georgia, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. This hotline will help you determine if you have encountered survivors of human trafficking, identify local resources available to help the survivors, and help you coordinate with local social service organizations to serve survivors so that they can begin the process of restoring their lives. For more information on human trafficking, please visit www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.
Source: ACF Rescue and Restore Campaign