What is Trafficking?


Human trafficking is modern-day slavery; the buying and selling of humans. We only thought slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s alive and well today with more slaves than at any point in history. In fact, there are twice as many slaves today as during the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade. The two most common forms of human trafficking are sexual slavery and forced labor.

It is the fastest-growing crime in the world, with the perpetrators making $32 billion a year buying and selling people for their profit and pleasure. The profits are huge and the risk of being prosecuted are slim- the United Nations says 99% of victims are never rescued.

Read the 2013-2017 Federal Human Trafficking Strategic Plan 


Domestic minor sex trafficking is the buying and selling of America’s own children. It’s our own children being forced into sexual slavery. Federal law defines sex trafficking as the exchange of a sex act for anything of value. A sex act could include pornography, stripping, oral sex, massage parlors, etc. Anything of value could include a place to stay, a hamburger or higher status in a gang. Many times, the victims are vulnerable children fighting to survive.

While it is true that there are children who are at higher risk for becoming a victim, such as runaways and 'throwaways,' all children are at risk. The average age of entry into sex trafficking in the U.S. is 12-13 years old - children at this age are vulnerable in their very essence. Gangs and the Mexican cartels are sending recruiters into Texas schools to find victims. Children are kidnapped. People they know are selling them and threatening their families if they tell.  Sometimes their own families sell them.

One little girl finally told her captor just to kill her - she couldn’t do it anymore. The pimp refused, telling her he makes too much money off her. If she wouldn’t do what he told her to, he would kidnap her 8-year-old little sister and do unthinkable things to her. The little girl complied, living in a dog cage when she wasn’t being sold to man after man.

A lack of awareness in our country, coupled with the explosion of the Internet, makes the job of the pimp and the recruiter extremely easy and the job of law enforcement extremely difficult. The scope of this horrific crime seems impossible, but each person can make a difference by teaching their own children about the Traps of a Trafficker and knowing the red flags to watch for.


- Scripted answers
- Inconsistent in story

- Branding or tattoos, especially that reflect ownership or money
- Signs of physical abuse
- Appears helpless, shamed, nervous
- Malnourished
- Inability or fear to make eye contact
- Chronic runaway; homeless youth
- Dating much older, abusive or controlling man
- Not attending school or has numerous school absences
- Sudden change in attire, possessions, behavior
- Travels to other cities frequently
- Uses terms common to the commercial sex industry 

On its own, one of these signs might not indicate trafficking, but 2-3 together are a good indication. The average life expectancy for a child forced into sexual slavery is 7 years. Don’t wait. Call 911 and the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1.888.373.7888, if you suspect something. It’s better to be wrong than not to report it. A life might just depend on it. Please also call Traffick911 and we can get them the help they need for healing, court, etc.

“This information has a short shelf-life. Trust your instincts. As we get older, we stop listening to our little Jiminy Cricket.”    - Phoenix Vice Sgt. Chris Bray

To learn more, visit our RESOURCES page.