Human Trafficking is not just a local problem, it is an international problem. Human Trafficking is one of the key ways criminal organizations fund themselves. Cartels, gangs, and organized crime organizations use human trafficking as a way to subsidize their income. One of the unique phenomenon’s I have observed is that Human Trafficking becomes more prevalent in areas where law enforcement has become effective at counter narcotics operations. It becomes evident that criminal organizations are resilient and make up for revenue losses where other sources dry up. Kidnap for Ransom cases, express kidnapping, and express prostitution cases also pick up. This trend is truly never addressed in counter narcotics or even counter insurgency strategy. Human Trafficking is often the elephant in the room. It is much easier to label it as prostitution, and demonize the victim rather than really looking at the problem.
Human Traffickers often fall into several different categories:
- Opportunist or locals with no real network connection. This group often consists of parents who traffic their own spouses, children, friends, and neighbors. In many cases this group operates with impunity. This group often consists of abusive parents or relatives, pedophiles, predators, and pornography addicts.
- Local Networks. This group has established their illicit business under the guise of legitimate residence and business. Local Networks may consist of opportunists as well as long term traffickers. It may also consist of local gang members. These networks often conduct every type of trafficking, from forced labor and sex trafficking to child pornography and black market organ trafficking.
- Criminal Networks, Organized Crime, and International Gangs. This group is often the most established and the most resilient. This group often traffics people from outside the United States, but is also notorious for trafficking at risk local children, teens, and adults.
The sex trade by itself is incredibly resilient. An average street pimp can make upwards of $300,000 US Dollars a year anywhere in the United States. Average estimates for the illicit sex industry as a whole vary by study, but every annual estimate for the United States is in the several billion dollar range.
In a world where insurgencies, terrorists, and international criminal organizations threaten our way of life, these figures are staggering. The Western world has been fighting the “War on Drugs” since the late 70’s and the “War on Terrorism” since 9/11. The elephant in the room for us now is Human Trafficking. No one argues that Human Trafficking is bad, which is the issue. If Human Trafficking was polarizing and caused debate our politicians would take action. The reality is that it is a go-to when politicians need a good news story. The other reality is that politician do not like to admit human trafficking is an issue in their constituencies because it paints the communities they represent in a bad light, which had adverse effects on the local economy.
In the next few blogs our focus will be on Who is at risk, and how do they end up being trafficked? How they are controlled and manipulated? What is the psychological toll on the victims? These posts will surprise you and maybe that will start a discussion. Maybe we can make this polarizing so that more action can be taken.