Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is the illegal practice of recruiting, transporting, harboring, obtaining and exploiting victims for the purpose of commercial sex, forced labor, or other services. Thousands of children, women and men are forced into the brutal underworld of human trafficking where they suffer unspeakable horrors at the hands of their traffickers.

The United States sees thousands of human trafficking cases alone, though unfortunately, the number of actual incidents is assumed to be higher because many go unreported.

The Victims

Both children and adults can be victims of human trafficking, with males and females alike forced into prostitution or forced labor. Human trafficking is a major global issue with the International Labor Organization (ILO) reporting in 2014, that an estimated 21 million victims were trapped in modern-day slavery, with those number steadily increasing. People are trafficked internationally and within their country/place of origin.

Texas laws divide trafficking into four types of populations:

  1. Trafficking of adults for forced labor (i.e. agriculture, food service, or factory work)
  2. Trafficking of adults for commercial sex in brothels, adult venues, street or internet prostitution
  3. Trafficking of children under 18 induced to perform labor services through force, fraud, or coercion
  4. Trafficking of children under 18 for commercial sex

Legally, an individual can be trafficked into any type of industry or work and can be considered so if force, fraud, or coercion was used to make the trafficked person work or if a child under 18 was trafficked by any means.

The Traffickers

Traffickers can appear to be everyday, upstanding citizens. In many cases, traffickers will appear to be legitimate business owners who promise high-paying jobs, or charming individuals who will show emotional attention and care to vulnerable victims. They will offer a loving relationship or new and exciting opportunities. Some traffickers may simply kidnap victims and use physical violence or illegal substances to control them.

Alongside physical violence and psychological coercion, many traffickers will also deceive the victim into believing they are responsible for their own exploitation and will threaten to call the police and report them for any number of potential offenses. This reduces the likelihood that the victim will seek out assistance from law enforcement.

Ultimately, there is not a particular type of trafficker as relatives, gangs, neighbors, friends, intimate partners, or criminal can all be offenders.

Third Party Responsibility and “Turning a Blind Eye”

Any person(s) or business that directly benefits from the crime of human trafficking, or who may be aware that the conditions of trafficking exist, can be held responsible and liable to the victims of said trafficking.

Texas is seeing its first ever civil action human trafficking lawsuit filed against a Houston motel by the family of a 21-year-old woman who was murdered. The lawsuit alleges the owners of the motel were aware of the illegal activities and human trafficking occuring on their property.

Hotze Runkle attorney, Ross Bussard, noted that this case is vital to future suits as, “While you, on one hand, benefit the victims and the victim’s families…you also serve to deter and make aware businesses and others that may think it’s okay to turn a blind eye.”

Texas passed anti-human trafficking statutes several years ago that allow for victims and their families to seek compensation from those who profit from human trafficking.

Any responsible party (person(s) or business) that “turn a blind eye” can be held responsible.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of human trafficking, contact the law offices of Hotze Runkle toll-free today at 877-919-0830. Our attorneys are specialized in this field of study and can help you find the justice and recompense you deserve.

If you believe that someone is the victim of human trafficking, report it. If the situation appears to be dangerous, do not attempt to intervene, call 911 and allow law enforcement to handle the situation.