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Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2007-08

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 9:00 A.M. EST Bureau of Justice Statistics
THURSDAY, JANUARY 15, 2009 Sheila Jerusalem 202-616-3227
www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs After hours: 202-598-3570


WASHINGTON - In the first 21 months of operation, the Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS) recorded information on more than 1,200 alleged incidents of human trafficking, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The HTRS contains data collected by 38 federally funded human trafficking task forces on alleged incidents of human trafficking that occurred between January 1, 2007, and September 30, 2008.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), and its reauthorizations in 2003, 2005, and 2008 define a human trafficking victim as a person induced to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion. Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was present.

Most (83 percent) of the reported human trafficking incidents involved allegations of sex trafficking. Labor trafficking accounted for 12 percent of incidents, and other or unknown forms of human trafficking made up the remaining five percent. About a third (32 percent) of the 1,229 alleged human trafficking incidents involved sex trafficking of children.

More than a quarter of alleged sex trafficking incidents contained multiple victims, and nearly half of labor trafficking incidents had more than one victim. Labor trafficking incidents were more likely to involve more than one suspect (47 percent), compared to sex trafficking incidents (37 percent).

As of September 30, 2008, less than 10 percent of the 1,229 alleged incidents had been confirmed as human trafficking. To be confirmed in the HTRS, the case must have led to an arrest and been subsequently confirmed by law enforcement, or the victims must have received a special non-immigrant Visa classification, as provided under the 2000 TVPA.

Over 90 percent of victims in both alleged and confirmed human trafficking incidents were female. Nearly 40 percent of victims in alleged and confirmed labor trafficking incidents were male, while almost all (99%) victims in alleged and confirmed sex trafficking incidents were female.

Hispanic victims comprised the largest share (37 percent) of alleged sex trafficking victims and more than half (56 percent) of alleged labor trafficking victims. Asians made up 10 percent of alleged sex trafficking victims, compared to 31 percent of labor trafficking victims.

Approximately two-thirds of victims in alleged human trafficking incidents were age 17 or younger (27 percent) or age 18 to 24 (38 percent). Sex trafficking victims tended to be younger (71 percent were under age 25) and labor trafficking victims tended to be older (almost 70 percent were age 25 or older). Slightly more than half of all victims in alleged human trafficking incidents were U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens accounted for 63 percent of sex trafficking victims, compared to four percent of labor trafficking victims.

Nearly eight in 10 human trafficking suspects were male. A fifth of sex trafficking suspects were female, compared to about a third of labor trafficking suspects. Nearly two-thirds of sex trafficking suspects were under age 35, while nearly two-thirds of labor trafficking suspects were age 35 or older. U.S. citizens accounted for 66 percent of suspects in alleged incidents. Nearly three-quarters of sex trafficking suspects and a third of labor trafficking suspects were U.S. citizens.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-164) requires the submission of biennial reports on human trafficking using available data from state and local authorities. In response to this requirement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) funded the creation of the HTRS, which was designed by the Institute of Race and Justice at Northeastern University (NEU) and the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute (UI). The HTRS is updated monthly. The data in this report represent the status of each case as of September 30, 2008.

The report, Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2007-08 (NCJ 224526), was written by BJS statisticians Tracey Kyckelhahn, Allen J. Beck, and Thomas H. Cohen. Following publication, the report can be found at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=550.

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS Web site at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. In addition, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at http://www.ojp.gov.

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Date Published: January 15, 2009