According to Homeland Security, human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.
How can law enforcement, licensed private investigators and concerned citizens work together to stop this crime? With over 2,000 people in the United States who go missing on a daily basis, how many of these people end up the victim of human or sex trafficking? Many families choose to look for help outside of law enforcement and hire a private investigator. A private investigator can help generate leads for law enforcement, they have the time and resources to focus on specific cases and they get paid to find the person. Private investigators, with a solid background in finding missing persons, can be key in helping to remove victims from a human trafficking situation.
When most people think of human trafficking, they think of women and children. But every year, millions of men, women and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. According to estimates, human trafficking is widely thought to generate billions of dollars of profit per year and comes in second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.
Human traffickers look for people who are vulnerable. They use force, fraud or coercion to trap their victims. Most victims are either too young or emotionally traumatized to realize they need to seek help, or are fearful of law enforcement.
It is estimated that across our southern border alone, 6 -7 million undocumented people enter the United States each year. Undocumented immigrants do not just come through our southern border though. Many immigrants come from countries around the world, usually on a valid visa yet they often ignore the date the visa expires. Many of these men and women can easily become prey to human traffickers and end up in slave-like labor conditions in homes, restaurants and small businesses. Once established in a job, possibly a place to live and a low-profile lifestyle, the human trafficker will often extort money in order to pay the debt owed to them for assisting these people. These traffickers keep track of what is owed, they charge interest and it seems no matter how hard one works, it’s never enough to get out from under the financial burden placed on them.
Sex trafficking also affects men, women and children. They can be lured or coerced into performing commercial sex acts against their will. If a child is under the age of 18, no coercion is necessary, since they are minors, they cannot make the decision to engage in this activity. Again, anyone who is involved in human or sex trafficking is generally too afraid or don’t realize they are being victimized and are reluctant to speak to authorities about their situation.
So how do we work together to fight against this growing problem? Homeland Security recommends against citizens directly approaching those who they suspect might be traffickers or their victims. caWith law enforcement stretched so thin, who can help?
Licensed private investigators can be a bridge between civilian suspicions and law enforcement involvement. Investigators have the knowledge and skills to conduct surveillance operations and may be the best choice when a citizen believes that an individual is the trafficker or the victim. Many children who get involved in this activity are runaways and their family may suspect they ended up relying on the wrong type of individual to help them now that they are on their own. A licensed private investigator may be able to use: forensics; if the whereabouts are known, surveillance can be conducted; witnesses, family, and friends interviewed; and reports written. When law enforcement has evidence of human trafficking, it gives them a head start on solving this crime.
While licensed private investigators give no guarantees of a specific outcome when they take a case, good investigators do due diligence in attempting to find the truth.
This issue is more prevalent than one might think, and, according to government officials, a growing concern. Let’s work together to fight this crime.