Involuntary Servitude and Human Trafficking Initiatives
Thousands of young American girls who authorities say have been abducted or lured from their normal lives and made into sex slaves. While many Americans have heard of human trafficking in other parts of the world -- Thailand, Cambodia, Latin America and eastern Europe, for example -- few people know it happens here in the United States.
The FBI estimates that well over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. They range in age from 9 to 19, with the average age being 11.
And many victims are no longer just runaways, or kids who've been abandoned. Many of them are from what would be considered "good" families, who are lured or coerced by clever predators.
These predators are particularly adapt at reading children, at reading kids, and knowing what their vulnerabilities are.
The predators will adapt their means to whatever the young people are doing -- whether it's malls, whether it's ski slopes, whether it's beaches.
Predators ... are going to do everything in their power to try to convince young girls, young boys, to come with them and enter this particular lifestyle.
Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1591 - Sex Trafficking of Children by Force, Fraud, or Coercion
This statute makes it unlawful to knowingly place a person (or profiting from a person placed) in a commercial sex act, where the person is either a minor, or their services are engaged by force, fraud, or coercion.
Punishment varies depending on the age of the person placed into the act as follows: if the person is under the age of fourteen years at the time of the commission of the unlawful act, the punishment varies from a fine to imprisonment for any term of years, or both; if the person was between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, the punishment varies from a fine to imprisonment of up to forty years, or both.
During April 1998, Attorney General Janet Reno announced the establishment of an inter-agency Workers Exploitation Task Force (WETF) of which the FBI is one of several participating agencies from the Department of Justice. The WETF's mission is to investigate, prosecute and prevent worker exploitation cases throughout the United States. These cases routinely demand a coordinated effort utilizing the resources and expertise of other agencies such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Department of Labor. This task force effort also includes an outreach effort to counteract the public's apparent lack of awareness of the existence of worker exploitation and involuntary servitude-related issues.
Trafficking in persons, also known as "human trafficking", is a form of modern-day slavery. According to recent U.S. government estimates, 18,000-20,000 persons are trafficked into the United States each year for purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Victims have been trafficked in both rural and urban areas of the United States.
Women, men and children are trafficking worldwide. Viewed as valuable commodities in the sex trade or labor industry, vulnerable individuals are targeted by traffickers poised to exploit their desperation, misfortune, or ignorance. They may fall victim to false promises of employment opportunities and a better live, or they may be abducted and sold outright by families who themselves are in need of money or hope to provide a better life for their children.
The passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in October 2000 marks the most comprehensive U.S. law to address the various aspects of human trafficking both internationally and domestically. The TVPA aims to combat human trafficking by establishing measures to prevent trafficking, to protect and assist its victims, and to prosecute traffickers.
The TVPA defines "severe form of trafficking in persons" as
a) Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; OR
b) The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
The TVPA only recognizes sex trafficking and labor trafficking, which include force, fraud, or coercion (exception for minors). Trafficked persons can be found in a wide range of industries including but not limited to brothels, domestic service, agricultural fields, construction sites, hotels, factories, sweatshops, and restaurants.