The Battle Against Human Trafficking Criminology Essay

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In the United States, human trafficking is a problem because many adolescents are becoming victims of unfair labor and slavery. Most studies indicate that trafficking is none other than modern day slavery. This research will analyze Federal Cases of human trafficking in the United States from 2006-2012. Provide information on the different aspects on trafficking and compare the testimonies on individuals that became targets. Furthermore, this study will explore ways to prevent human trafficking from becoming more prevalent in our society.

Is slavery making a modern day comeback? Did the Thirteenth Amendment actually abolish slavery? Does sex literally sell? These are questions many individuals are considering when discussing human trafficking. The category of woman and children is a huge segment of human trafficking. Rarely did the research reference men as a victim, but as the trafficker. As defined under U.S. federal law, "victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of "labor or services," such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will" ("What is human," 2012). Not only is trafficking a form of slavery but also the fastest-growing business of organized crime and third largest criminal enterprise in the world.

Studies show that human trafficking deviates from our historic field of slavery making it hard to hypothesize. In America, the average age of human trafficking is between the ages of 12-14 years old. The majority of children that are involved in human trafficking are runaways or those who have suffered sexual abuse as a child. Runaways are easy targets being that they have no one to care for them. The research will enlighten the public about human trafficking.

Research Questions

What is human trafficking?

How do traffickers control their victims?

What countries are trafficking most prevalent?

Problem Statement

There is a variety of trafficking in the United States starting from 2006 to 2012. "Forced labor, sex trafficking, bonded labor, debt bondage among migrant laborers, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor, child soldiers, and child sex trafficking are none other than the different varieties of human trafficking" ("Faqs: Types of," ). The most common form of trafficking is sex trafficking as well as forced labor. "Sex trafficking can occur within debt bondage, as women and girls are forced to continue in prostitution through the use of unlawful "debt" purportedly incurred through their transportation, recruitment, or even their crude "sale," which exploiters insist they must pay off before they can be free. Forced labor also known as involuntary servitude, may result when unscrupulous employers exploit workers made more vulnerable by high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption, political conflict, or cultural acceptance of the practice. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable, but individuals also may be forced into labor in their own countries" ("Faqs: Types of," ). Furthermore, human trafficking is a serious matter, but is often kept silent by the individual, and society.

Federal Cases

The following cases are founded from The United States Department of Justice (Kappelhoff).

U.S. v. Botsvynyuk, et al.

On July 16, 2012, Omelyan Botsvynyuk, a 52-year-old Ukrainian national, was sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison. On July 17, Stepan was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Omelyan Botsvynyuk and his brother, Stepan Botsvynyuk, 38, were convicted on Oct. 12, 2011, of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO with Forced Labor as a "specified unlawful activity"). Between 2000 and 2007, the brothers operated cleaning services with workers who were smuggled in from Ukraine and kept in conditions of peonage and forced labor through physical violence and threats of physical violence. Evidence presented at trial showed the brothers recruited workers from Ukraine, promising them good jobs making $500 per month and another $200 or $300 extra for expenses, with each worker expected to earn $10,000 after two or three years of working in the United States. Throughout their employment with the brothers, the workers lived with up to five people in one room and slept on dirty mattresses on the floor. Most victims were never paid and were told that they had to work for the brothers until their debts, ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, were paid.

U.S. v. Norris et al.

Former professional wrestler "Hardbody" Harrison Norris and co-defendants Aimee Allen and Cedric Lamar Jackson were charged with federal conspiracy, sex trafficking, and forced labor violations for their participation in a scheme to recruit and sometimes kidnap young women and then force the women into prostitution in the Atlanta area. Norris was also charged with multiple counts of tampering with a witness. Norris was convicted by a federal jury in November 2007 and, in March 2008, he was sentenced to life in prison. Allen and Jackson, who had both previously pled guilty, were sentenced to 34 months and to 60 months in prison, respectively. Two other women involved in the conspiracy, Michelle Achuff and Leslie Smith, were sentenced to probation for making false statements to FBI investigators. 

U.S. v. Jones

In August 2007, Jimmie Lee Jones, aka "Mike Spade," pled guilty, on the eve of trial, to multiple charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, peonage, Mann Act violations, and extortionate collection of credit, for recruiting and forcing young women to engage in prostitution in the Atlanta area. Jones enticed the victims into signing fraudulent modeling contracts, and then used physical and sexual abuse, threats of force, and extortion to compel the young women into prostitution. On January 24, 2008, Jones was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

U.S. v. Cortes-Meza, et al.

From about the spring of 2006 through early June 2008, Amador Cortes-Meza, his brother Juan, and their two nephews, Francisco and Raul, along with Edison Wagner Rosa Tort and Otto Jaime Larios Perez, conspired to recruit and smuggle ten women from Mexico, four of whom were minors, to engage in forced prostitution in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The defendants lured the women to the United States, using promises of love and opportunity. Once in Georgia, the defendants forced the women into prostitution by various means, including beating them, threatening to hurt their families, and isolating them. Each night, the victims were transported by drivers to the homes of customers who paid $25-$30 for ten to fifteen minutes with them. The women typically visited 10 to 30 customers per night. The conspirators were indicted in 2008 on conspiracy, sex trafficking, harboring, and obstruction charges. In April and July 2009, Tort, Larios Perez, and Juan, Francisco, and Raul Cortez-Mesa pleaded guilty. In April 2010, Tort was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment; Larios Perez to 30 months; Juan Cortez-Mesa to 200 months; Francisco Cortes-Meza to 20 years; and Raul Cortes-Meza to 10 years. All five were ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution to the victims. Amador Cortes-Meza, the leader of the prostitution ring, went to trial and, on November 23, 2010, was convicted by a jury of 19 counts of conspiracy, sex trafficking, human smuggling, and harboring. On March 28, 2011, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $292,000 in restitution to the victims, $64,000 of which jointly with Francisco Cortez-Mesa, and $4000 jointly with Juan Cortez-Mesa. 

U.S. v. Paris et al.

In 2006, Dennis Paris and nine co-defendants were charged in a multi-count federal indictment for operating prostitution businesses in the Hartford, Connecticut, area. The defendants recruited young, vulnerable girls and women and marketed them to perform sexual acts with men in exchange for money. Paris's nine co-defendants, including Shanaya Hicks and Brian Forbes, pled guilty. On June 14, 2007, a federal jury convicted Paris of multiple trafficking-related offenses. On October 14, 2008, Paris was sentenced to 30 years in prison. 


The purpose of this study is to educate the public about the occurrence of human trafficking in the United States. This research can potentially serve as a means for the public to be more adhering to this epidemic growing as well as to help prevent this issue. This study is significant in many aspects. First, it enlightens society about different ways to help lessen the trafficking in the United States. For instance, a typical individual does not know or even care to know the hardships children and women face when confined by the person that is basically becoming their master. However, once coherent to this epidemic, one may take a stand in making changes to better deal with the problem.

This research is meant to inform families of those individuals who have been or could possibly become trafficked. It is essential that society became aware of the horrific activity that is taking place behind the closed doors of the victims being trafficked. Furthermore, this research warns individuals about the obstacles in which people are even kidnapped into becoming "modern day slaves."

Finally, this study can assist young individuals who are runaways or even attempting to become runaways. By educating the younger audience on what would most likely happen to them if they became a runaway and possibly got abducted, their mentality would be more positive being that they are aware of human trafficking. It would be wise if society teaches the younger generations about human trafficking, because many times people fall victim when they have no clue as to what they can face in regards to trafficking.


My research entails a quantitative analysis as well as secondary information from a professional journal conducted by Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2008, 2009, and 2010; Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents. Sources also included from online testimonials by victims who have been involved in sex trafficking and have shared their stories openly to the public. Facts and details from the "Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000" give a more in depth understanding of human trafficking.

Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents (2008- 2010) is a report done by statisticians Duren Banks and Tracey Kyckelhahn. The data from the "Human Trafficking Reporting System" (HTRS) "was designed to measure the performance of federally funded task forces. HTRS is currently the only system that captures information on human trafficking investigations conducted by state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States. Case outcomes, including suspect arrests and the visa status of confirmed victims, and describes the characteristics of incidents entered into the HTRS prospectively by the task forces beginning in 2008" (Banks & Kyckelhahn, 2011).

Review of Literature

As defined under U.S. federal law, "victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of "labor or services," such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will" ("What is human," 2012). According to research, "slaves are considered non-human property that were bought and sold, moved from place to place without consent, controlled by physical violence, subjected to unlimited sexual use by a master and anyone else they chose, allowed to keep no money or own possessions. Today, public slave trading blocks have been replaced by cell phones and the internet. Iron shackles have been exchanged for less 'visible' means of force, fraud and coercion" ("What is human," 2010-2012). In all research obtained, human trafficking is repeatedly compared to the African slave conditions in the past. For example (Lee, M. 2007) says, "Human trafficking has historical parallels with the traffic in and exploitation of black Africans in previous centuries when the colonial slave trade was considered not only a lawful but desirable branch of commerce by European empires. It has been understood as the new white slave trade transnational organized crime, an illegal migration problem, a threat to national sovereignty and security, a labour issue, human rights violations, or a combination of the above."

"The United States of America is a transit and destination country for trafficking in persons. Statistics show that 14,500 to 17,500, primarily women and children, are trafficked to the United States annually. The U.S. government is strongly committed to fighting human trafficking in the United States and abroad. Laws and acts have been passed in America to help the prevention of human trafficking" ("Human trafficking," 2009). "The majority of sex trafficking is international, with victims taken from such places as South and Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, Central and South America, and other less developed areas and moved to more developed ones, including Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America " (Walker-Rodriguezg & Hill, 2011).

"The United States not only faces an invasion of international victims but also has its own homegrown problem of interstate sex trafficking of minors. The majority of these victims are runaway or thrown-away youths who live on the streets and become victims of prostitution. Among children and teens living on the streets in the United States, involvement in commercial sex activity is a problem of epidemic proportions. Many girls living on the street engage in formal prostitution, and some become entangled in nationwide organized crime networks where they are trafficked nationally. Criminal networks transport these children around the United States by a variety of means-cars, buses, vans, trucks, or planes-and often provide them counterfeit identification to use in the event of arrest. The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14. Not only girls on the streets are affected; boys and transgender youth enter into prostitution between the ages of 11 and 13 on average. Traffickers use force, drugs, emotional tactics, and financial methods to control their victims. They have an especially easy time establishing a strong bond with young girls. These perpetrators may promise marriage and a lifestyle youth often did not have in their previous familial relationships. They claim they "love" and "need" the victim and that any sex acts are for their future together. In cases where children have few or no positive male role models in their lives, the traffickers take advantage of this fact and, in many cases, demand that the victims refer to them as "Daddy," making it tougher for the youths to break the hold the perpetrator has on them" (Walker-Rodriguezg & Hill, 2011).

Survivors give their insight below on the troubles that they went through to the Polaris Project, "One of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in the US and Japan, with programs operating at international, national and local levels. The Project is involved in direct outreach and victim identification, social services and transitional housing to victims, and operation of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). The NHTRC serves as the central hotline on human trafficking in the US" ("Human trafficking: Glossary," 2012).

One was in reference to domestic servitude labor trafficking and the other domestic minor sex trafficking. "Thirteen year old Natalia was told by her parents she was moving to the U.S. with family friends who would allow her to receive an education and learn English. Born and raised in a small village in Ghana, Natalia's family was struggling to pay the school fees for their children's education and welcomed the opportunity for Natalia to receive an education in the United States. Shortly after she arrived in the US, the father she was living with began to physically and sexually abuse the young girl, creating a constant environment of fear for Natalia. For the next six years she was forced to clean the house, wash clothes, cook, and care for their three children, often working 18 hours a day while receiving no form of payment.  She was never allowed to enroll in school as the family had promised, go outside, or even use the phone.  One day, after she was severely beaten, Natalia saw an opportunity to run away from the home and a neighbor called the police. She was then taken to a local hospital for medical care.  The nurse assisting Natalia was aware of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and referred her to Polaris Project New Jersey. The  Polaris Project New Jersey team met Natalia at the local hospital  and immediately coordinated emergency services including clothing, a safe shelter, counseling,  emotional support and case management. Within a month, Natalia was enrolled in school as she had always dreamed, living in transitional housing and beginning to feel like herself again. Now, nearly a year later, she is volunteering at a local animal rescue shelter, participating in a weekly poetry workshop and is pursuing her education to become a nurse. Natalia is one of the many examples of the survivors who have redefined their future and are working towards achieving their long-term goals" ("Survivor stories," 2012).

The next victim "Sarah, a 17-year-old Caucasian female who grew up in rural Ohio, ran away from home a few times because her mom and stepfather drank a lot and did not pay attention to her. A few months ago Sarah was walking to the store alone and a 30-year-old male drove up beside her and told her how pretty she was and asked why she looked so sad. Sarah told him that she was angry with her mom and just needed to take a walk. He asked if he could take her to get her nails done down the street to cheer her up, and she agreed. He paid right away while giving compliments and telling her he wanted to meet again the next day. For the next two months he picked Sarah up and took her to eat, to get her nails done and continued to act like a loving boyfriend. They both began calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend. They spent a lot of time together and he asked Sarah to move in with him, but after another month of living together he told her he couldn't make the rent payment and needed help. He asked her to go on dates with older men and engage in commercial sex. Sarah felt uncomfortable but agreed because she would do anything not to return home, and wanted to make him happy. Her boyfriend praised her and told her he didn't mind that Sarah helped them get money for rent this way. This continued until one night when Sarah was out on the street and was raped by a stranger who initially solicited her for sex. She immediately called the police and was taken to the hospital for an exam. Once at the hospital, the responding detectives called Polaris Project client services and two staff members reported to the hospital. Polaris Project provided emergency housing and emotional support for Sarah as she considered some of her options. She decided to leave her boyfriend and move into a shelter. During her month at the shelter, Polaris Project found long-term housing for her and helped her secure a part-time job. Within four months, Sarah saved enough money to move into her own apartment. She continues to work part-time and attend classes in the evenings. She hopes to attend college and eventually own her own business" ("Survivor stories," 2012).

"In October 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) (Public Law 106-386) was enacted. Prior to that, no comprehensive Federal law existed to protect victims of Trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers. Their goals were as followed; prevent human trafficking overseas, protect victims and help them rebuild their lives in the U.S. with Federal and state support, and prosecute traffickers of persons under stiff Federal penalties. The law is comprehensive in addressing the various ways of combating trafficking, including Prevention, Protection and Prosecution. The prevention measures include the authorization of educational and public awareness programs. Protection and assistance for victims of trafficking under the law include making housing, educational, health care, job training and other Federally-funded social service programs available to assist victims in rebuilding their lives. The law also established the T visa, which allows victims of trafficking to become temporary residents of the U.S" ("Trafficking victims protection," ).

"The TVPA authorizes up to 5,000 victims of trafficking each year to receive permanent residence status after three years from issuance of their temporary residency visas. The T visa signifies a shift in the immigration law policy, which previously resulted in many victims being deported as illegal aliens. The law stipulates that victims of trafficking eligible for the Witness Protection Program and makes victims of trafficking eligible for benefits and services under Federal or state programs once they become certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Adult trafficking victims must be certified as a pre-condition for their eligibility for benefits and services. Once certified, they will be eligible to apply for benefits and services under any Federal or state funded programs, to the same extent as refugees including refugee cash, medical assistance and social services. Victims under the age of 18 do not need to be certified. HHS issues these victims letters of eligibility so that providers know they are eligible for services and benefits. Victims of human trafficking who are non-U.S. citizens are eligible to receive benefits and services through the TVPA to the same extent as refugees. Victims who are U.S. citizens do not need to be certified by the HHS to receive benefits; as U.S. citizens, they are already eligible for many benefits" ("Trafficking victims protection," ). Aside to this Act, President Obama declared January 2012 as the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Key Terms

The terms listed below are pertaining to the research; ("Human trafficking: Glossary," 2012).

Human trafficking: The illegal trading, either nationally or internationally, of human beings for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor; a modern-day form of slavery. It is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.

Labor trafficking: "The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion." (Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000). Victims are forced to work against their will under threat of violence or other punishment. Their freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted.

The Polaris Project: One of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in the US and Japan, with programs operating at international, national and local levels. The Project is involved in direct outreach and victim identification, social services and transitional housing to victims, and operation of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). The NHTRC serves as the central hotline on human trafficking in the US.

Prostitute: a person who voluntarily sells his or her own body.

Sexual trafficking: Sexual trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18. A "commercial sex act" means any sex act performed for financial gain. Victims of sex trafficking can be women or men, girls or boys, but the majority are women and girls.

Results and Findings

After reviewing the graph/tables shown, Graph one show the percentage of the types of trafficking committed in the United States. Prostitution was considered 46%, domestic servitude was considered 27%, Miscellaneous was 12%, Agriculture was 10% and lastly factories were 5%. By viewing this, my thoughts prior to human trafficking were correct; prostitution/sexual trafficking are most common in United States. Figure one shows the most suspected incidents of human trafficking; 1,200 incidents were allegations of adult sex trafficking, and more than 1,000 were allegations of prostitution or sex exploitation of a child. Lastly, Table one explains the types of trafficking as the suspect reported or law enforcement agency investigated. "Bureau of Justice System classifies the type through an analysis of other characteristics of those cases, as identified by the investigative agencies" (Banks & Kyckelhahn, 2011).


Graph One; ("Human trafficking," 2009)

Figure One; (Banks & Kyckelhahn, 2011)

Table One; (Banks & Kyckelhahn, 2011)

Conclusion and Limitations

In conclusion, in an effort to prevent, respond, and lessen human trafficking, The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 enforces the authorization of educational and public awareness programs around the United States. Perhaps with increasing numbers in human trafficking, media will begin to cast limelight on this issue and get the public more involved so that this horrific crime finally is prevented. Furthermore, this research answered various questions concerning the critical issue of human trafficking in the United States. Unfortunately, because a lot of cases are not reported, the statistics are not one hundred percent accurate.


Banks, D., & Kyckelhahn, T. (2011). Characteristics of suspected human trafficking incidents,

2008-2010. Retrieved from

Faqs: Types of human trafficking. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Human trafficking: Glossary of terms. (2012). Retrieved from

Human trafficking. (2009, September). Retrieved from Trafficking

Kappelhoff, M. (n.d.). Criminal section selected case summaries. Retrieved from

Lee, M. (2007). Human trafficking. Portland, Oregon: Willan Publishing.

Survivor stories. (2012). Retrieved from


Trafficking victims protection act of 2000 fact sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from