What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking occurs when one person forces another against their will through fraud or coercion to complete acts of labor or commercial sex. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines human trafficking as any illegal exploitation of another. This can involve United States residents as well as foreign nationals.

How do these cases begin?

An anonymous report or referral from a law enforcement agency can trigger an investigation. Once initiated, the investigators will look for evidence of criminal activity. This can include gathering testimony from alleged victims and forensic evidence.

The federal government investigates three distinct categories of human trafficking: labor, domestic servitude, and sex.

Allegations of participation in human trafficking is serious. The government has task forces that focus on this specific crime, including an Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team and Enhanced Collaborative Model Human Trafficking Program. These programs often include collaborative efforts of multiple federal agencies including the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Labor as well as local prosecutors and law enforcement efforts.

What are the penalties?

Penalties for allegations of human trafficking can include potential imprisonment. In a recent example, the court sent a 30 year-old woman who lived in Houston to prison for 72 months for human trafficking. The District Judge noted that the sentence was light for the alleged crime because the accused was also under the influence of another person. This other individual faced even more serious allegations related to trafficking and was sentenced to 324 months imprisonment.

Various factors impact the severity of sentencing. The above included allegations of sex trafficking, the longer sentence tied to a conviction involving minors.

What if I face allegations of human trafficking?

Anyone facing these allegations should begin building defense. This could include a review of procedures used during the investigation as well as police tactics during the arrest and gathering of evidence. As noted above, the allegations are serious and prompt action is wise to help better ensure your rights are protected.