FBI Pittsburgh
Public Affairs Officer Bradford Arick
(412) 576-9396
January 30, 2023

FBI Pittsburgh Raises Awareness During National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

During National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, FBI Pittsburgh has been raising awareness for Human Trafficking. FBI Pittsburgh has seen an increase in human trafficking over the last few years in the Pittsburgh area. To help educate the community, we joined with local organizations and law enforcement partners to participate in a panel discussion about the sex trafficking issue. This month we also partnered with a state law enforcement partner in an effort to rescue victims and arrest traffickers.

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. Every year, many adults and children are trafficked worldwide, with more than 1,675 pending FBI cases as of January 2023. In fiscal year 2022, the FBI initiated 668 human trafficking investigations nationwide. The largest percentage and greatest number of sex trafficking victims recovered in the United States are U.S. citizens.

Human trafficking victims can be held captive through force, fraud, or physical or psychological coercion. Warning indicators of human trafficking include:

  • Victims work in the same place they live;
  • 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. In the past decade, the FBI’s human trafficking investigations have been responsible for the arrest of thousands of traffickers and the recovery of numerous victims.

“Human trafficking happens every day, and it often occurs in plain sight,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall. “Criminals exploit their victims and treat them like commodities for their personal gain. We will continue to collaborate with our partners at every level to focus on this criminal activity and go after those who are targeting our children and putting them in harm’s way.”

The FBI also collects and posts human trafficking statistics through its Crime in the United States, Human Trafficking report each year. The most recent report can be found at https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/additional-data-collections/human-trafficking

People who are or believe they may be victims of human trafficking may call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. More information is available on the National Human Trafficking website. You may also report an incident of human trafficking or suspected human trafficking to FBI Pittsburgh at 412-432-4000 or submit an anonymous tip.