Human trafficking investigations can happen anywhere. In 2008, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement raided two massage parlors in Richmond, Indiana, a town with a population of approximately 35,000 along I-70. Four Korean women were detained as suspected sex slaves in an international human trafficking ring.
Human trafficking is not just an immigration issue. It involves U.S. citizen victims too. Between 2008 and 2012, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported that 41% of sex trafficking cases and 20% of labor trafficking cases referenced U.S. citizens as victims. A summary of the data, trends, and issues is available from the Polaris Project, which operates the hotline, as well as full reports. The Indianapolis Protection of Abused and Trafficked Humans (IPATH) project notes that the average age of U.S. children entering the commercial sex trade is twelve to fourteen years of age, and between 100,000 and 300,000 U.S. children are victims each year. “Risk factors for human trafficking include: youth; poverty; unemployment; homelessness; desperation and/or a need to be loved; homes in countries torn by armed conflict, civil unrest, political upheaval, corruption, or natural disasters; family backgrounds strife with violence, abuse, conflict; immigration status.” The Indiana Attorney General’s Office website also has data, educational tools, and resources.
The challenge is to become more adept at identifying potential victims and resources. To help identify human trafficking victims, the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights has resources, including Voices for Victims: Lawyers Against Human Trafficking Tool Kit for Bar Associations. See also the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement.