U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Federal Prosecution of Human Trafficking Cases, 2015

IMMEDIATE RELEASE AT 8:00 A.M. ET Bureau of Justice Statistics
MONDAY,  JUNE 25, 2018                Contact: Tannyr Watkins (202) 532-3923
HTTP://WWW.BJS.GOV/ Email: [email protected]


WASHINGTON — In fiscal year 2015, 1,923 suspects were referred to U.S. attorneys for prosecution for human trafficking offenses, a 41 percent increase from the 1,360 suspects referred for prosecution in 2011, according to a report released today by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

U.S. attorneys prosecuted 1,049 suspects for human trafficking offenses in 2015. This was a 44 percent increase from the 729 suspects prosecuted in 2011. The number of human trafficking defendants sentenced annually to prison increased more than fivefold from 2000 to 2015, from 132 to 759.

Federal human trafficking laws prohibit coercing persons to perform labor, services or commercial sex acts. This report presents statistics on peonage and slavery statutes in the U.S. criminal code, including human trafficking offenses covered by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.

In 2015, human trafficking suspects were most commonly charged with peonage, slavery, forced labor or sex trafficking (39 percent), followed by the production of child pornography (32 percent) and transportation for illegal sex activity (29 percent).

From 2011 to 2015, suspects referred to U.S. attorneys for prosecution for sex trafficking increased 82 percent, and referrals for the production of child pornography increased 44 percent. Referrals for forced labor decreased 6 percent.

The FBI (52 percent) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (19 percent) referred the most human trafficking suspects to U.S. attorneys in 2015. Among the 94 federal judicial districts in 2015, the Middle District of Florida (72) referred the most human trafficking suspects to U.S. attorneys, followed by the Northern District of Texas (64) and the Western District of Missouri (64).

Nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) human trafficking suspects referred to U.S. attorneys in 2015 were prosecuted in U.S. district courts. More than 9 in 10 (93 percent) defendants were convicted.

Nearly all (99 percent) of the convicted human trafficking defendants received a prison sentence. The median prison sentence for defendants convicted of human trafficking in 2015 was 15 years. .

The report, Federal Prosecution of Human-Trafficking Cases, 2015 (NCJ 251390), was written by BJS statistician Mark Motivans and former BJS statistician Howard N. Snyder. Findings are from the BJS Federal Justice Statistics Program, which collects data from the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The report, related documents and additional information about BJS’s statistical publications and programs can be found on the BJS website at www.bjs.gov.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice is the principal federal agency responsible for collecting, analyzing and disseminating reliable statistics on crime and justice systems in the United States. Jeffrey H. Anderson is director.


The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Alan R. Hanson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six bureaus and offices: 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; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART). More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

Date Published: June 25, 2018