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An Empirical Analysis of the Intersection of Organized Crime and Human Trafficking in the United States

NCJ Number
Vanessa Bouché
Date Published
April 2017
128 pages
This research examined the extent of organized crimes' perpetration of human trafficking in the United States and the groups and methods involved, and it makes available an online database of federally prosecuted human trafficking cases.
Searches of federally prosecuted human trafficking cases in the United States indicate that there were 862 such cases between 2000 and 2015, involving 2,096 defendants. A total of 1,227 (58 percent) of the defendants operated as part of an organized criminal group. Of the cases in which organized crime groups were engaged, 34 percent involved sex trafficking of both adults and minors; 24 percent were engaged only in sex trafficking of minors; 18 percent engaged in labor trafficking that did not involve commercial sex; and 17 percent engaged only in sex trafficking of adults. Regarding the national origin of trafficking victims, 55 percent of adult victims of sex trafficking were foreign nationals; in cases of minor victims of sex trafficking, 92 percent were U.S. nationals; 93 percent of labor trafficking victims were foreign nationals. Of the organized-crime cases, 35 percent involved "mom and pop" operators; 33 percent of organized-crime cases involved crime rings; 6 percent of organized-crime cases involved gangs; 26 percent of the organized-crime cases involved illegal enterprises; none of the organized-crime cases involved cartel/mafia/syndicates, but there was evidence they facilitated the human trafficking operations of other types of organized criminal groups. Data on age, gender, country of origin, and motivations for human trafficking are noted, along with criminal methods. Seven recommendations address the criminal justice community and other policymakers. 71 references and appended case search and case-coding protocols, and inmate interview protocol

Date Published: April 1, 2017