Human Trafficking, also known as modern day slavery or trafficking in persons, is the exploitation of human beings through force, fraud or coercion for the purposes of commercial sex or forced labor.

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. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry second only to drug trafficking in annual profit. U.S. Department of State estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 persons are brought into the United States each year for labor or sexual exploitation.

Many factors make Los Angeles County a hub for human trafficking. Its proximity to ports and international airports and its diverse population make it an ideal destination and transit stop for trafficked persons. As host to a multitude of vulnerable populations, the region also sees its own residents falling prey to this violation of human rights.


(A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or

(B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

(Source: Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000)

Common Venues/Industries for Labor Trafficking:

  • Domestic Work (e.g., cleaning homes, childcare, elderly care, etc.)
  • Hotel & Restaurant Service (e.g., hospitality services, housekeeping, dishwashing, etc.)
  • Manufacturing (e.g., food processing, making clothing, assembling toys, etc.)
  • Agriculture (e.g., growing food)
  • Health & Beauty Services (e.g., hair braiding, nail salons, etc.)
  • Forced Peddling (e.g., magazine crews)
  • Forced Selling and/or Cultivation of Drugs

Common Venues/Industries for Sex Trafficking:

  • Spas and Massage Parlors
  • Residential or Commercial Brothels
  • Escort Companies
  • Exotic Dancing/Strip Joints
  • Pornography
  • Truck Stops
  • Hotel/Motel

Indicators that people have experienced Human Trafficking include, but are not limited to:

  • Injuries or signs of physical, psychological or sexual abuse
  • Accompanied by someone who speaks on their behalf, or seems to be in control of the situation
  • Someone else has possession of their identification documents such as passport or driver’s license
  • No freedom of movement; cannot leave where they live or work
  • Deplorable living or working conditions
  • Isolation from friends, family, or social groups
  • Working long hours or being forced to work when sick
  • Working to pay off a debt, debt bondage
  • Threats of physical harm to the individual or their family members, or threats of deportation
Learn more by viewing this video:


For more information and for resources please visit see our Educational Tools & Resources.