What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is legally defined as obtaining a person for labor, services or sex acts by force, fraud or coercion. In the United States alone, over 300,000 people are trafficked every year. Trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, netting traffickers over $150 billion annually. Trafficking will soon surpass the illegal drug industry if nothing is done to stop it.

What is labor trafficking?

Labor trafficking is when someone is forced to perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It’s what most people think of when they hear the word “slavery,” but it also includes involuntary servitude and debt bondage. Labor trafficking is estimated to make up 20% of human trafficking cases.

What is sex trafficking?

Sex trafficking is forcing someone else – whether through fraud, coercion or threat of violence – to engage in a commercial sex act. Commercial sex acts are any sexual acts performed in exchange for money, drugs or other items. Not all commercial sex acts are instances of trafficking.

The most vulnerable victims.

In the United States alone, around 100,000 kids are at risk of being forced into some form of sex trafficking every year. Usually approached around ages 14 to 16, these kids are often missing from care or survivors of earlier abuse who have little means of defense. Often, they are fleeing an existing abusive situation, only to be recruited into the sex trade – at parks, homeless shelters, malls and bus stations – usually within 48 hours of hitting the streets.

This happens in our metro area?

Human trafficking is, sadly, alive and well in Nebraska. Surges in sex trafficking are commonly seen around major events like the College World Series, Olympic Swim Trials, concerts and conventions, but it happens ben when big events aren’t occurring as well as outside of metropolitan areas. No neighborhood or ZIP Code is immune. Local anti-trafficking task forces have identified over 100 cases of child sex trafficking in the area, but report that this number represents only a very small percentage of what’s really going on in our community.

In the greater metropolitan area, trafficking activity occurs at a variety of locations, in a variety of situations:

  • Initial “customer” contact is usually made online
  • Actual encounters often occur at area hotels and motels during large events
  • Pheasant hunting season in South Dakota brings a rise in trafficking activities to our area
  • Truck stops along I-80 and I-29 are prime hotspots for traffickers
  • Even something as innocuous as lunch hour finds sex trafficking taking place at hotels across the area

Now that you know what human trafficking is, learn how to spot it.