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Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 10:00 A.M. EDT Bureau of Justice Statistics
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011             Contact: Kara McCarthy (202) 307-1241
HTTP://WWW.BJS.GOV/ After hours: (202) 598-0556


More than 2,500 incidents of human trafficking investigated between January 2008 and June 2010

WASHINGTON – Most suspected incidents of human trafficking investigated between January 2008 and June 2010 involved allegations of adult prostitution (48 percent) or the prostitution or sexual exploitation of a child (40 percent), the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today.  

Federally funded task forces, led primarily by local law enforcement agencies, investigated 2,515 incidents of suspected human trafficking between January 2008 and June 2010. Although most incidents involved allegations of sex trafficking, 350 incidents involved allegations of labor trafficking in unregulated industries (e.g. drug sales, forced begging, or roadside sales) and/or more commercial industries (e.g. hair salons, hotels, and bars).

Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion. Any commercial sex act performed by a person under age 18 is considered human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion is involved.

Among the incidents with sufficient data quality, 30 percent were confirmed to be human trafficking, 38 percent were confirmed not to be human trafficking, and the remaining incidents were still open at the end of the study period. Law enforcement agencies reported 144 arrests. Of the 87 victims identified as foreign nationals, 21 received special visas and 46 applicants had pending visas or the visa status was unknown.

The task forces identified 527 confirmed human trafficking victims and 488 confirmed suspects during the study period.

Among the confirmed incidents, sex trafficking victims were overwhelmingly female (94 percent), compared to confirmed labor trafficking victims (68 percent female). About 13 percent of confirmed sex trafficking victims were 25 or older, while more than half (62 percent) of the confirmed labor trafficking victims were 25 or older.

Four-fifths of victims in confirmed sex trafficking cases were identified as U.S. citizens (83 percent), while most confirmed labor trafficking victims were identified as undocumented aliens (67 percent) or qualified aliens (28 percent).

Based upon cases where race was known, sex trafficking victims were more likely to be white (26 percent) or black (40 percent), compared to labor trafficking victims, who were more likely to be Hispanic (63 percent) or Asian (17 percent).

Most of the confirmed suspects were male (81 percent). More than half (62 percent) of confirmed sex trafficking suspects were black, while confirmed labor trafficking suspects were more likely to be Hispanic (48 percent).

Law enforcement agencies led nearly all (98 percent) of the suspected sex trafficking cases. Labor trafficking investigations were more likely to show evidence of collaboration among agencies. Eighty-two percent of labor trafficking cases identified multiple agencies as part of the task force team, while 49 percent of sex trafficking cases identified multiple agencies. Federal agencies were more likely to lead labor trafficking investigations (29 percent) than sex trafficking investigations (7 percent).

Data in this BJS report are from the Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS), which was designed to capture performance measures from law enforcement agencies in federally funded human trafficking task forces. The information in the report responds to a congressional mandate for biennial reporting on the scope and characteristics of human trafficking incidents in the United States. HTRS is currently the only system that captures information on state and local law enforcement agency investigations of human trafficking incidents.

The report, Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010 (NCJ 233732), was written by BJS statisticians Duren Banks and Tracey Kyckelhahn. Following publication, the report can be found at http://www.bjs.gov.

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS website at http://www.bjs.gov/.

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The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has seven components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; the Community Capacity Development Office; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at http://www.ojp.gov.







Date Published: April 28, 2011