Following the release of the 2020 Federal Human Trafficking Report, HTI CEO Victor Boutros spoke with CBS News anchor Anne-Marie Green about trends in the prosecution of human trafficking in the United States over the past two decades.
Boutros spoke about the demographics of victims seen in the Report: “Traffickers often prey on the existing vulnerabilities of victims, ranging from substance dependency, to runaways from home, to homelessness, and foster care. So they are actually looking for existing vulnerabilities that they prey on to make money.” The Report also revealed that children made up 53% of identified victims in active criminal human trafficking cases in 2020, and women made up a large majority. 44% of victims of sex trafficking were women, and 50% were girls.
Another key trend revealed in the Report is the growing use of the internet by traffickers. “The internet has become the dominant tool that traffickers use to recruit victims, and they often recruit them on a number of very common social networking websites,” Boutros said. Additionally, online solicitation has dwarfed other tactics used by traffickers to solicit buyers of commercial sex for over a decade, appearing as the primary form of solicitation in over twice as many criminal cases as any other method each year since 2008.
Green asked Boutros what the Report reveals about common misconceptions about trafficking, including the widely-believed notion that traffickers mostly operate in organized crime groups. Boutros explained, “A lot of times we imagine that traffickers are these large criminal syndicates or networks that are exploiting a huge number of victims, but actually, most traffickers are not operating as an organized crime enterprise. It’s mostly individual traffickers that are operating individually and often exploiting a small handful of victims at a time.”
In response to the misconception that all victims of trafficking are foreign nationals, Boutros said, “We often think of trafficking involving victims from foreign countries, and really only 13% of victims are foreign nationals. At least of the conduct we see and the conduct that’s prosecuted at a federal level takes place in the United States. In fact, most of it doesn’t even involve the crossing of a state border.”
To read the full 2020 Federal Human Trafficking Report and learn more about the U.S. track record on federal human trafficking prosecutions, click here. Look out for the “20 Year Trends” icon throughout for more information on how the prosecution of traffickers has evolved in the U.S.
Watch the interview below or click here to read the CBS News article.