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What is Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a criminal activity in which people profit from the control and exploitation of others. Two forms of human trafficking are sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Human trafficking can occur anywhere, within and across U.S. borders, victimizing both U.S. citizens and non-citizens, both children and adults, and across all gender identities.

The federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act defines human trafficking, in part, as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of commercial sex acts or labor services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. "Force" includes physical restraint, bodily harm, or confinement. "Fraud" includes deceitful employment offers or work conditions, false promises, or withholding wages. "Coercion" refers to threats of serious harm, bodily harm against any person, abuse of legal process, withholding legal documents, and creating a climate of fear.
Human trafficking is a unique crime, and one that is often hard to identify, investigate, and prosecute. Human trafficking activities often occur in conjunction with other crimes, which may mask the trafficking components of the activities. Victims of human trafficking may be unwilling or afraid to cooperate with first responders, law enforcement, and victim advocates. Language and cultural barriers can hinder even voluntary communication with trafficking victims.
It is important to distinguish human smuggling and human trafficking as the two are often confused. A smuggled person is a voluntary participant, whereas a trafficked person is not. A smuggled person must cross an international border, while a trafficked person can be victimized in their home country. A trafficked person does not have to be moved or transported, only forced into a state of servitude.