Definition of Human Trafficking

Slavery is the moral crime of turning a person into a product. Human trafficking is the legal crime that leads to slavery. 


From the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.


From the Trafficking Victims Protection Act

  • 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.
  • 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.


From California Penal Code 236.1

  • Depriving someone of their personal liberty with the intent to obtain forced labor or services from them,
  • Depriving someone of their personal liberty with the intent to violate California's pimping and pandering laws, California's child pornography laws, California laws against extortion and blackmail, or certain other California laws concerning commercial sexual activity and the sexual exploitation of children, OR
  • Persuading or trying to persuade a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, with the intent to violate one of those same laws.

Put simply, human trafficking is the crime of using violence, lies, or mind control to exploit a person for your own gain. 

It is very important to note that in the United States, the crime of child sex trafficking does NOT include the elements of violence, lies, or mind control. Any child sold for any sex act is automatically considering a victim of human trafficking. There is no such thing as a "child prostitute."

Human Trafficking Statistics

  • An estimated 45.8 million people are enslaved worldwide today (Global Slavery Index, 2016).
  • Human trafficking is the third largest criminal industry worldwide and the fastest growing (Do Something, 2006).
  • Human trafficking generates annual revenue of $150 billion with $99 billion coming from sex trafficking (International Labour Office, 2014).
  • In the United States, identified victims are from almost every region in the world, but the top three countries of origin are the United States, Mexico, and the Philippines (US Department of State, 2015).
  • In 2014, Homeland Security, the FBI, and Department of Justice initiated 2,905 investigations into human trafficking. This number does not include local law enforcement cases (US Department of State, 2015).
  • Between 2010-2012, California task forces identified 1,277 labor and sex trafficking victims (CA Attorney General’s Office, 2012).
  • The National Human Trafficking Hotline reports that there were 1,323 reported cases in California in 2015 alone (Polaris Project, 2016).
  • 3 out of 13 FBI identified high intensity child prostitution areas are in California: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego (FBI, 2009).
  • The majority of sex trafficking victims in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Alameda counties were documented as being involved with the child welfare system (California Child Welfare Council, 2013).
  • A needs assessment in Santa Barbara County confirmed 45 victims of child sex trafficking between 2012-2014 (O’Brien, Larson, Felix, & Riker-Rheinschild, 2015).
  • At any given time, 60% of the female youth in Ventura County Juvenile Facility are estimated to have been sex trafficked in short or long-term situations (Forever Found, 2015).
  • In 2014, Los Angeles-based nonprofit CAST received 11 calls from human trafficking victims within Ventura County (Forever Found, 2015).
  • Ventura County has documented cases of both sex and labor trafficking. Victims have been male and female, adults and children, citizens and undocumented, and many ethnicities. A prevalence survey conducted by 9 agencies identified 57 victims from January 2014 – April 2016 in Ventura County (Ventura County Coalition Against Human Trafficking, 2016).
  • In January 2016, Ventura Police Department conducted a “demand” operation by posting a fictitious online ad offering sex for sale. The ad received over 100 responses in just under 8 hours. People responding to the ad were told that the person for sale was a minor. Officers made 4 arrests in the timeframe available. A similar operation by Oxnard Police Department in April 2016 received responses from 109 potential purchasers and made 14 arrests. This demand creates the market for sex trafficking victims. (Forever Found, 2016).

Learn More About Human Trafficking

Click on the pictures or resource titles to be linked to an external website.


California Child Welfare Council. (2013). Prevalence of commercially sexually exploited children. Retrieved from

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2014). Operation cross country: rescuing victims of child sex trafficking. Retrieved from

Forever Found. (2016). Human trafficking cases in Ventura County. Simi Valley: Author.

International Labour Office. (2014). Profits and poverty: the economics of forced labour. Geneva: Author.

O’Brien, K. M., Larson, K. S., Felix, E., & Riker-Rheinschild. (2015). Needs Assessment of Domestic Child Sex Trafficking in Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office: Author.

Office of the Attorney General of California. (2012). The state of human trafficking in California. Sacramento. Author.

Office of the Inspector General. (2009). The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s efforts to combat crimes against children. Retrieved from

Polaris Project. (2015). California hotline statistics. Retrieved from

United States Department of State. (2015). 

Trafficking in persons report. Washington, DC: Author.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). HHS fights to stem human trafficking. Retrieved from

Ventura County Coalition Against Human Trafficking. (2016). Human Trafficking in Ventura County. Retrieved from

Walkfree Foundation. (2017). The global slavery index. Retrieved May 4, 2017, from