Trafficking Elements

Understanding the Elements of Human Trafficking


The Department of Homeland Security reports that human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.

Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. It is estimated that human trafficking is a $32 billion per year industry, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.

Human trafficking is a hidden crime because victims rarely come forward to get help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement.

Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are vulnerable for a variety of reasons, including economic hardship, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims, believe help is not available to them, even in highly public settings.

By the definition, it is evident that trafficking in persons has three elements:

The Act

(What is done)

The Purpose

(Why it is done)


(How it is done)








Forced Labor



Sexual exploitation



Removal of organs


Receipt of Persons

Exploitation of others










Abuse of power



Giving or with holding payments or benefits

Traffickers often operate by:

  1. Using violence or threatening the person or the person’s family members;
  2. Harming or depriving the person of basic necessities, such as food, water, or sleep;
  3. Making false promises of love or companionship;
  4. Making false promises of a good job and home;
  5. Isolation from friends or family;
  6. Limiting freedom of movement;
  7. Controlling the person's identification documents;
  8. Threatening deportation or law enforcement action;
  9. Garnishing the person's salary to pay off alleged debts;
  10. Preventing the victim from attending religious services.

The Kentucky Center for Restorative Justice educates Kentucky citizens to the mindset of Human Traffickers. Together, we can move Kentucky forward.

"You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know." -William Wilberforce

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