Did you know - St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office
Did You Know? Community Police News


Part 3 of 6

Human Trafficking and smuggling are far apart but most people tend to believe that there is no difference. Human Trafficking can be either a commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age. It can also be the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Trafficking is an exploitation-based offense against a person, and does not require movement across borders or any type of transportation.
Human smuggling on the other hand, is the importation of people into the United States involving the deliberate evasion of immigration laws. This offense includes bringing illegal aliens into the United States, as well as, the unlawful transportation and harboring of aliens already in the United States. Smuggling is a crime against the integrity of the United States’ borders. Smuggling requires movement within and around borders.

Smuggling and trafficking are not interchangeable terms. Smuggling is transportation-based and involves movement. Trafficking is exploitation-based.

The key distinction between smuggling and Human Trafficking is freedom of choice. Trafficking is involuntary. It involves forced exploitation of a person for labor or services. It does not require physical movement of person and may occur domestically. Human Trafficking is a crime against the right of each person to be free from slavery or involuntary servitude. Many trafficking victims are US citizens. Smuggling is voluntary. With Smuggling, the individual typically contracts to be taken across the border and the arrangement ends after border crossing. Fees are usually paid in advance of arrival and it is always international in nature. Smuggling is a crime against the nation’s sovereignty.

So when does smuggling becomes trafficking? It is important to note that while traffickers maintain ongoing control over their victims, there are instances where a smuggled individual may become a trafficked victim. This occurs when the individual is smuggled and then held and forced into the labor or sex trade.

The smuggler may hold the person in debt or require them to work off a debt. The smuggler might also refuse to give the person credentials or release them to anyone else. This series hopefully I have given you an understanding of the differences between Human Trafficking and human smuggling, as well as how smuggling may turn into Human Trafficking. 
How do you spot victims of Human Trafficking, many share common characteristics. Victims may be physically isolated or guarded, while others are held through psychological coercion. Some victims are lured into slavery with the promise of a “better life,” and some are blatantly forced into submission to the trafficker. Others are stolen or kidnapped into slavery.

Many victims may not speak English or even know where they are in the United States. They may fear or distrust law enforcement and the government because of threats of abuse, imprisonment, or deportation. Although rarely the primary cause, poverty and inequality are important factors in making people more vulnerable to being trafficked.

In the next series we will take a closer look at the methods of control that may be used on trafficking victims by their captors.

The above information is intended for information purposes only and not for legal advice. For legal advice, consult an attorney. Questions can be submitted to bguidroz@slpsheriff.com

Part 4 of 6

There are different types of trafficking. Sex trafficking is also driven by buyer demand. Whether a pimp is involved or not, anyone under the age of 18 is deemed a victim of sex trafficking when they engage in commercial sex with an adult. The buyer is viewed as the perpetrator any time the victim is a minor. Sex trafficking can be: Pimp-controlled or Gang-controlled. Pimp-controlled – Victims are controlled by individual pimps who often force victims to use drugs, or Gang-controlled – Victims are controlled by a collection of individuals, gangs, organized crime, or syndicates. Violence and intimidation are typically used to force cooperation. Sex trafficking involves commercial sexual exploitation, such as prostitution, pornography, bride trafficking, military prostitution, and sex tourism. According to studies, prostitution accounts for the largest amount of forced labor that occurs in the United States. The commercial sexual exploitation of women and children has ties to prostitution, pornography, and exotic dancing.

Forms of labor-driven trafficking are: Bonded labor or debt peonage – Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service. Bonded labor or debt peonage began in plantation economies where employers forced workers to buy from employer-run stores at inflated prices so they could never pay off the debt. Today, we see this when employers force victims to live on-site, charge them inflated rent, pay low or no wages, and don’t allow them to leave.

Forced labor – Victims are forced to work against their will under threat of violence or other form of punishment. Freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted. 

Child labor – The International Labor Organization estimates 215 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are involved in child labor. The commercial sex trade, forced military service, drug trade, domestic servitude, construction, manufacturing, and illegal arms trade are all areas in which children are forced into labor trafficking.

The agricultural sector also experiences a high occurrence of forced labor, particularly seasonal farm workers, such as citrus pickers. Farm workers are particularly vulnerable because agricultural working conditions are generally poor, wages are low, legal protections for agricultural workers are weak, and there is little monitoring of working conditions. Common employers of victims are agricultural and landscape work, factory work, food service, construction, carnivals, hotel housekeeping, day labor, nail salons, and domestic servitude or childcare.

The human traffickers use multiple methods to control their victims. Without control the victims would simply just walk away. The goal of the traffickers is to use all means necessary to control and keep the victims in their “stable”. Common tactics include beatings, rapes, starvation, isolation, and psychological abuse. Traffickers also use drug/alcohol dependency, document withholding, debt bondage, threats of deportation, family threats, and confinement.

In the next series we will discuss some myths of Human Trafficking.

The above information is intended for information purposes only and not for legal advice. For legal advice, consult an attorney. Questions can be submitted to bguidroz@slpsheriff.com