Division of Criminal Justice Services

Human Trafficking FAQ'S

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1. What is human trafficking?

There are two types of human trafficking recognized by New York Law: sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

2. What is sex trafficking?

Sex trafficking is when someone profits from or advances the prostitution of another by certain methods.

3. What are these methods?

The use of force, making threats, withholding the victim's identification documents, making someone pay off a debt by engaging in prostitution, providing the victim with drugs or using trickery to get the victim into, or hold the victim, in prostitution.

4. This sounds like pimping, how is it different?

In reality, there is little difference. In most cases of promoting prostitution, the pimp uses one or more of these methods.

5. Does New York's law only apply when the victim is foreign born?

No. Trafficking victims can be citizens or legal residents of the United States in addition to foreign-born.

6. Where are victims of sex trafficking usually found?

Sex trafficking victims are usually performing prostitution in locations that try to appear legitimate. Often times, locations are marketed as "massage parlors," "health spas," "acupressure centers" or similar names. Brothels, escort services and strip clubs also are often destinations of sex trafficking victims.

7. There is a "massage parlor" in a strip mall in my town. How can I tell if it is a sex trafficking location?

There are several indicators that are common to sex trafficking locations: darkened or obscured windows so you can't see into the location from the outside; locked doors that require you to be buzzed in; and an all-male clientele are indicators of trafficking. In trafficking locations, the victims often arrive and leave from the premises together or live at the location. Many times, the victims at the location will all be of the same nationality or ethnic group.

8. What should I do if I suspect that human trafficking is occurring?

Immediately call your local police department or district attorney's office.

9. What will happen to the victims?

Under New York's Human Trafficking Law, a person confirmed as a victim of human trafficking is eligible for social services.

10. Doesn't this reward illegal behavior?

No. It's important to remember that human trafficking victims are in that situation because they have been subjected to force, threats, coercive methods or fraud. They did not have a real opportunity to avoid their circumstances, or leave them.

Also, experience shows that human trafficking victims are reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement officials because of shame or from fear that they or their families will be harmed by the traffickers. The services provided are necessary to help the victims heal, make them safe and give them confidence to testify against their traffickers. Without cooperation from the victims, it is extremely difficult to obtain human trafficking convictions.

Providing services to human trafficking victims is as much for the benefit of the police, prosecutors and general public as it is for the victims.

11. What will happen to the traffickers?

New York is tough on traffickers and its law is the most comprehensive of its kind in the country. If convicted, sex traffickers face up to 25 years imprisonment and labor traffickers face up to seven years in prison.

12. What is labor trafficking?

Labor trafficking is enticing, coercing, harboring or transporting someone to perform some sort of labor or service by certain prohibited methods.

13. What are these methods?

The prohibited methods of labor trafficking are similar to those of sex trafficking: obtaining someone's labor by force, threat, coercion or withholding government issued identification documents are among the methods that constitute labor trafficking in New York.

14. Where are labor trafficking victims usually found?

Labor trafficking victims can be found in a wide range of otherwise legitimate jobs and services, including restaurants, hotels, construction, cleaning and maintenance, and domestic and agricultural employment.

15. What is the difference between smuggling and trafficking?

Smuggling is a consensual situation. The person being moved and the person moving them are in agreement, and when the smuggled person arrives at the destination they are free of the other person. Smuggling always involves the crossing of an international border.

Trafficking doesn't require being transported over an international border. The victim is not free. The trafficking victim is not a criminal. On the contrary, the person being willfully smuggled has entered the country illegally.

16. What can I do to prevent trafficking?

Do not patronize establishments that provide sexual activity for money. Persuade your town, village or city to pass a tough local law prohibiting the operation of massage parlors, unless it is staffed exclusively by New York State licensed massage therapists. Urge your police department and district attorney to cut off the demand for sex trafficking victims by strictly enforcing New York laws against patronizing prostitutes.