Recently, law enforcement in Minnesota busted a human trafficking network that was bringing-in young Somali girls for cheap “slave” labor and the sex industry. We in Minnesota like to think we have a squeaky-clean community free from the big-city problems like trafficking.
Not true. Minnesota is actually one of the target states for human traffickers with the FBI ranking Minnesota as one of the 13 largest centers for sex trafficking of children. Drug trafficking ranks as the number one in the world, followed by sex trafficking and trafficking in arms, tied for the number two position. An estimated 100,000-300,000 children in the U.S. are involved in the sex trafficking industry. Worldwide, it’s estimated that 600,000-800,000 human victims are trafficked per year.
Where do they come from? The leading sources are: China, India, Laos, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Somalia, and Vietnam.
How do they get here? Obviously, some are threatened or coerced to come. Young people are kidnapped, snatched off streets, and then physically beaten to get their cooperation. But many come voluntarily–sort of.
In eastern Europe, for instance, there are “trafficking brokers” who pose as talent scouts from Hollywood. They recruit young people with the promise of movie deals and fame. Especially in eastern Europe, this has a tremendous pull on young people and they agree to come into the country illegally–which starts their problems.
Of course, there aren’t any movie deals and the young people are forced into slave labor and the sex industry. The traffickers use the following techniques to get cooperation:
1. Physical coercion and torture
2. Isolation and threats to expose their illegal status to authorities
3. Continued promises of Hollywood opportunities
4. The “Mothers.” Perhaps one of the most effective techniques is to use the “worn-out” victims who have already been “broken-down” by the criminals to coerce/encourage the new victims to cooperate. Because the Mothers are female and close in age they are trusted, to a greater degree, than the traffickers themselves. What a vicious surprise when the “older” woman betrays the younger one into continuing in the business.
Next post, I’ll look at what’s being done to combat this large, difficult, and tragic problem–not only in Minnesota but the country. In addition, you may enjoy my new novel, Fallout. The criminals in my suspense story are traffickers and you can learn further how they’re structured and how they work so effectively–while reading a great story. The book is available in local bookstores and Amazon and Barnes & Noble.