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Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking
A Top Investigative Priority

01/13/10

Slavery. It exists today in the form of human trafficking…and the FBI is ready to fight it.

Human trafficking occurs when someone recruits, harbors, transports, or obtains a person through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, usually for sexual exploitation and/or forced labor. People are often trafficked for prostitution, domestic or hotel housekeeping services, agricultural or landscape work, or as day laborers.

Traffickers often target women and children who are poor, unemployed, and who do not have access to an adequate social network. Victims are then lured away with promises of well-paying jobs and better lives…only to be subjected to inhumane conditions such as beatings, starvation, and threats.

Protecting the civil rights of all individuals is a leading priority of the FBI. The El Paso FBI Division hosts a Human Trafficking Task Force, made up of area federal, state, and local organizations that have a stake in the lives of these victims. This task force works together to investigate allegations of human trafficking, rescue and assist the victims, and prosecute the traffickers.

“During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we acknowledge that forms of human slavery still exist in the modern era, and we recommit ourselves to stopping the human traffickers who ply this horrific trade,” said President Barak Obama in his proclamation of January 2010 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

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Human trafficking is different from human smuggling in that smuggling is a crime against the border and the individual being smuggled is the perpetrator of a crime. Human trafficking is a crime against a person and the individual being trafficked is the victim of a crime.

“Someone being smuggled into the country knows they are entering illegally. That business relationship with the smuggler ends once they enter the country and are free to go on their way,” said El Paso FBI Victim Specialist Jennifer Romero. “But people being trafficked into the country may or may not know they are entering illegally and think they will be free to go on their way once they enter the country. Instead, they are held and forced or coerced into labor or sex trafficking.”

Human trafficking investigations can be initiated based simply on a “tip” or information received by people who may be aware of, or witness to, some form of wrongdoing. If you would like to report information regarding possible human trafficking, please contact the El Paso FBI at (915) 832-5000.