What is Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor or a commercial act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children around the world are victims of human trafficking – including right here in Washington. Human trafficking can occur in any community, and victims can be of any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers may use violence, manipulation, or false promises of good-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into the trafficking situation

Human trafficking is the modern form of slavery. It is the exploitation of men, women and children for forced labor or sex by third parties for profit or gain. In Human trafficking, there must be force, fraud, or coercion. Action, Means, and Purpose are three tools commonly used to understand human trafficking federal law.

Human trafficking is a criminal industry that deprives 24.9 million people around the world of their freedom. In 2017, human trafficking was classified as a $150.2 billion industry. Also in 2017, Polaris processed 8,759 human trafficking cases reported to the Polaris-operated National Human Trafficking Hotline and BeFree Textline. These cases involved 10,615 individual victims, nearly 5,000 potential traffickers, and 1,698 trafficking businesses. Human trafficking is notoriously underreported. As shocking as these numbers are, they likely represent only a tiny fraction of the real problem.

In October 2000, the United States Congress passed a critical piece of legislation-the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)-that provided greater protections for victims of trafficking in the United States, made trafficking and related crimes a federal crime, and increased U.S. government efforts to provide services and prevention. This law served as a catalyst for two decades of rapidly expanding federal efforts to eradicate human trafficking and preserve the rights of survivors.

The AMP model (Action-Means-Purpose)

The Action-Means-Purpose (AMP) Model can be helpful in understanding federal law. Human trafficking occurs when an offender, often referred to as a trafficker, performs an act and then uses the means of force, fraud, or coercion to coerce the victim into providing commercial sexual acts, labor, or services. At least one element from each column must be present to establish a potential trafficking case.

The AMP model is provided below to assist in understanding the action, means, and purpose.

Force, Fraud, or Coercion

U.S. law defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person to engage in commercial sexual acts, labor, or services against his or her will. The only exception concerns minors and commercial sex. The enticement of a minor to engage in commercial sex is considered human trafficking regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion is involved.

Contact Numbers to Report Human Trafficking

To report suspected Human Trafficking to Federal law enforcement:


To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline:

1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733)

Para reportar un posible caso de trata de personas:


Obtenga ayuda de la Línea Directa Nacional de Trata de Personas:

1-888-373-7888 o enviando un mensaje de texto con HELP o INFO to BeFree (233733)

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