January 12, 2023

FBI Springfield Raises Awareness During National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. For cases involving victims under the age of 18, it is not necessary to prove force, fraud, or coercion. Every year, many adults and children are trafficked worldwide, with more than 1,675 pending FBI cases as of January 2023.

The FBI investigates all forms of human trafficking, regardless of the victim’s age or nationality. In fiscal year 2022, the FBI initiated 668 human trafficking investigations. Human trafficking is not restricted to one area of the United States. All 56 FBI field offices have reported incidents. The largest percentage and greatest number of sex trafficking victims recovered in the United States are U.S. citizens. Conversely, the largest percentage of labor trafficking victims recovered in the U.S. are non-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.

Approximately 90 percent of the FBI’s human trafficking cases involve sex trafficking, and the remainder involve labor trafficking. However, labor trafficking may involve a greater number of victims.

“Human trafficking isn’t always a violent crime—but it is always a devastating crime that is happening with shocking frequency right here in the United States,” said FBI Springfield Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “In instances of labor trafficking, victims are lured with promises of good jobs and fair wages but find themselves working in inhumane conditions for little to no pay. They may appear to be housekeepers or nannies, restaurant or agriculture workers, often working behind the scenes outside the watchful eye of law enforcement. The FBI asks anyone who suspects human trafficking to report it immediately.”

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 Springfield at 217-522-9675 or submit an anonymous tip.