Sex Trafficking in the U.S. RECOGNIZE THE SIGN/ SDSU Professor, Student Use Internet Marketing To Fight Human Trafficking

San Diego State University Professor Murray Jennex is working to fight human trafficking by using the same internet marketing tools used by Google and Facebook.

Jennex said his graduate student, Marisa Hultgren, first proposed repurposing some marketing tools for law enforcement.

“The idea that she had, which we followed through on, was that we should be looking at online advertisements,” Jennex said.

The pair looked at about 5,000 internet ads from websites like Craigslist and Backpage. Jennex said they found victims everywhere.

“We looked at San Jose, a lot of cities here in California. They all have victims,” Jennex said. “They’re so beaten down that they basically do whatever they’re told. The people trafficking them tell them ‘advertise yourself.’”

On its website , the FBI said people are being bought and sold like modern-day slaves. Jennex said this new way of fighting human trafficking will allow law enforcement to look at underworld business trends.

“The San Diego market tends to be more towards Middle Eastern ladies, L.A. was more toward the Pacific Islander and San Jose more on the Hispanic,” Jennex said.

The websites where these ads appear don’t condone human trafficking and it is illegal, but criminals use code words in the ads that don’t appear to be illegal.

“Things that seem to indicate a low age, and are probably much lower, but doesn’t arouse the police to come and do something about it,” Jennex said.

He said using these business-research tools can bring human traffickers to justice.

“These people are truly exploitative,” Jennex said. “But, at the same time because we can identify their characteristics we can build profiles of who they are and use that to find them and capture the people who are doing the trafficking and free these people.”

Recognizing the Signs


International Trafficking

Human trafficking affects every country around the world, regardless of socio-economic status, history, or political structure. Human traffickers have created an international market for the trade in human beings based on high profits and demand for commercial sex and cheap labor. Trafficking affects 161 countries worldwide.

An estimated 20.9 million men, women and children are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor around the world today. Victims are trafficked both within and across international borders. Migrants as well as internally displaced persons are particularly vulnerable.

There is a growing recognition of the links between labor trafficking, regulation of supply chains, and the power of the consumer to end widespread exploitation by choosing goods that aren’t tainted by forced or child labor. The US Department of Labor has identified 122 goods produced with forced labor, child labor, or both,

The US Department of State publishes a report every year assessing human trafficking on a global scale. The 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) can be found here.

Click here for reports, referrals to international anti-trafficking organizations and agencies, and additional information.

Sex Trafficking in the U.S.
E-mail Print

Young girls are forced to sell sex by knocking on cab doors at truck stops.
Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally.

Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to force women, men and children to engage in commercial sex against their will. Under federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.

Sex traffickers may lure their victims with the false promise of a high-paying job. Others promise a romantic relationship, where they first establish an initial period of false love and feigned affection. During this period they offer gifts, compliments, and sexual and physical intimacy, while making elaborate promises of a better life, fast money, and future luxuries. However, the trafficker eventually employs a variety of control tactics, including physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault, confiscation of identification and money, isolation from friends and family, and even renaming victims.

U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, children, and LGBTQ individuals can be victims of sex trafficking. Runaway and homeless youth, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war or conflict, or social discrimination are frequently targeted by traffickers.

Sex trafficking exists within diverse venues including fake massage businesses, online escort services, residential brothels, in public on city streets and in truck stops, strip clubs, hotels and motels, and elsewhere.

In street-based sex trafficking, victims are often expected to earn a nightly quota, ranging from $500 to $1000 or more, which is confiscated by the pimp. Women in brothels disguised as massage businesses typically live on-site where they are coerced into providing commercial sex to 6 to 10 men a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more about sex trafficking, including specific details of the venues where sex trafficking frequently occurs, at

In 2013, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, operated by Polaris, received reports of 3,609 sex trafficking cases inside the United States. Find more hotline statistics here.
In 2013, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 7 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims.
Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.5 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally.
Learn to Recognize the Signs of human trafficking in your community.
Call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888 if you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking.
Send a text to BeFree (233733) if you need help.
Visit our Action Center to find opportunities to tell your elected officials to take action against sex trafficking.


Labor Trafficking in the US
E-mail Print

Victims of trafficking may be found in any industry with a demand for cheap labor and a lack of rigorous monitoring.
Labor trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally.

Labor traffickers—including labor recruiters, contractors, and employers—use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will in many different industries. In 2013, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, operated by Polaris, received reports of 929 labor trafficking cases inside the United States. Find more hotline statistics here.

U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, and children can be victims of labor trafficking. Immigration status, recruitment debt, isolation, poverty, and a lack of strong labor protections are just some of the vulnerabilities that can lead to labor trafficking. Common types of labor trafficking in the United States include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farmworkers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions. Labor trafficking has also been reported in door-to-door sales crews, carnivals, and health and beauty services.

Victims of labor trafficking must frequently work long hours for little to no pay. Their employers exert such physical or psychological control – including debt bondage – that the victim believes they have no other choice but to continue working for that employer.

Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 14.2 million people trapped in forced labor in industries including agriculture, construction, domestic work and manufacturing.

Learn more about Labor Trafficking, including specific details around venues where labor trafficking has been found, at