FBI Newark
Public Affairs Specialist Amy Thoreson
January 31, 2024

FBI Newark Raises Awareness About the Threat of Human Trafficking

NEWARK, NJ—January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month designed to raise awareness and help prevent the crime, and to educate the public and potential victims. FBI Newark and our fellow federal, state, and local law enforcement partners are seeing a significant increase in cases. Perceptions of human trafficking vary tremendously based on societal norms, popular culture, and social media. Those perceptions are often not a true representation of what happens to victims who are trafficked and can hinder law enforcement’s ability to fully investigate cases.

Human trafficking is the illegal exploitation of a person. Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, and it can occur in any U.S. community—cities, suburbs, and even rural areas. Victims can be held captive through force, fraud, or physical or psychological coercion. Things that you may notice and not realize are warning signs of possible human trafficking:

  • Victims live in their workplace, like a salon or warehouse.
  • Poor living conditions.
  • They let someone else speak for them.
  • They are not in possession of their own travel or immigration documents.
  • There are locks on the outside of doors where they live, rather than inside.
  • They are constantly watched and guarded by someone.
  • Their boss takes their pay or threatens them.
  • They are lied to about the work they are to perform.
  • They are not free to leave.

Victim recovery is the primary goal of trafficking investigations. The FBI’s multi-disciplinary team of agents, analysts, victim specialists, and forensic interviewers work together to ensure a victim-centered, trauma-informed response. FBI victim specialists work with local, state, and federal resources to provide immediate assistance (shelter, food, clothing) and long-term support (counseling, education assistance, job training). After recovering a victim of human trafficking, field offices seek to arrest and successfully prosecute the traffickers.

“Human trafficking is one of the more despicable violations of law we investigate because in its most basic form someone is being treated as less than a human being. Many people don’t understand what it is, so it isn’t a topic that’s often discussed like terrorism or mortgage fraud. The victims are real, and their lives are living hells that many of us can’t fathom. While we take time to recognize and attempt to inform the public during the month of January, the crime takes place every month, every week, every day of the year,” said James E. Dennehy, special agent-in-charge of the Newark FBI.

Anyone who is a victim of human trafficking or has information that may help law enforcement in an investigation, please contact the Newark FBI at 973-792-3000. You can also call 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit information online at tips.fbi.gov.