Human Trafficking – What is it?
Human trafficking is a growing concern for our nation, the state of Maryland, and, yes, even throughout our neighborhoods here on the eastern shore. Also known as modern day slavery, human trafficking is a crime that involves the exploitation of a person for the purpose of compelled (force, fraud or coercion) labor or sex for money or anything of value (bartering). Transportation of the person is not necessary for this crime to occur.
Since the passage of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000, law enforcement investigators, social services providers, and community leaders have reported cases of forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking, impacting a diverse range of populations, including men, women, and children who are US citizens, permanent residents, or foreign nationals.
Human trafficking occurs across the nine counties of Maryland’s eastern shore in rural, urban, and suburban settings and in a wide range of industries or markets, legal and illicit, including brothels, massage parlors, private homes, hotels, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, construction, health and elder care, and domestic service. Among the diverse populations affected by human trafficking are children and adolescents born in the US as well as an expanding population of foreign nationals, many here legally, and particularly vulnerable because of their limited language skills.
Human trafficking is the second highest profit-making criminal enterprise in the United States, and is growing in the state of Maryland. In 2014, 396 victims were identified and provided services in Maryland, nearly double the number in 2013. There were probably many more victims than were identified. Many of Maryland’s attributes make it an attractive area for human trafficking, including major highways, casinos, popular tourist areas, airports, truck stops, and sporting venues. Additionally, the availability of drugs, pockets of poverty and unemployment can contribute to this growing evil. Likewise, Maryland is surrounded by major metropolitan areas that send buyers and sellers of human exploitation to our communities.