Understanding Human Trafficking

Legal Definitions

18 U.S.C. § 1591(a)(1): Sex Trafficking

A. Section 1591 (a)(1) prohibits recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, patronizing, soliciting, or obtaining a person for commercial sex where the defendant knew that force, fraud, or coercion would be used to cause the person to engage in commercial sex or knew that the person was under 18 years of age.

B. Must prove the conduct was in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

C. Where a minor is involved, no separate proof of force, fraud, or coercion is necessary.

D. Section 1591(a)(2) makes it a crime for anyone to benefit financially or by receiving anything of value from participation in a venture that has engaged in a violation of § 1591(a)(1).

Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 is the cornerstone of Federal human trafficking legislation, and established several methods of prosecuting traffickers, preventing human trafficking, and protecting victims and survivors of trafficking. The act establishes human trafficking and related offenses as federal crimes, and attaches severe penalties to them. It also mandates restitution be paid to victims of human trafficking. It further works to prevent trafficking by establishing the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which is required to publish a Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report each year. The TIP report describes and ranks the efforts of countries to combat human trafficking. The act also established the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, which assists in the implementation of the TVPA. The TVPA protects victims and survivors of human trafficking by establishing the T visa, which allows victims of human trafficking, and their families to become temporary U.S. residents and eligible to become permanent residents after three years.

NMSA 30-52-1: Human Trafficking

A. Human trafficking consists of a person knowingly:

(1) recruiting, soliciting, enticing, transporting or obtaining by any means another person with the intent or knowledge that force, fraud, or coercion will be used to subject the person to labor, services or commercial sexual activity;

(2) recruiting, soliciting, enticing, transporting or obtaining by any means a person under the age of eighteen years with the intent or knowledge that the person will be caused to engage in commercial sexual activity; or

(3) benefiting, financially or by receiving anything of value, from the labor, services or commercial sexual activity of another person with the knowledge that force, fraud or coercion was used to obtain the labor, services or commercial sexual activity.

B. The attorney general and the district attorney in the county of jurisdiction have concurrent jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this section.

C. Whoever commits human trafficking is guilty of a third degree felony; except if the victim is under the age of:

(1) sixteen, the person is guilty of a second degree felony; or

(2) thirteen, the person is guilty of a first degree felony.

D. Prosecution pursuant to this section shall not prevent prosecution pursuant to any other provision of the law when the conduct also constitutes a violation of that other provision.

E. In a prosecution pursuant to this section, a human trafficking victim shall not be charged with accessory to the crime of human trafficking.

F. A person convicted of human trafficking shall, in addition to any other punishment, be ordered to make restitution to the victim for the gross income or value of the victim's labor or services and any other actual damages in accordance with Section 31-17-1 NMSA 1978.

The Action-Means-Purpose (AMP) Model is a device used to illustrate and articulate the federal definition of a “victim of severe forms of trafficking in persons,” contained in 22 USC §7102(8).

Human trafficking occurs when a perpetrator, often referred to as a trafficker, takes any one of the enumerated Actions, and then employs the Means of force, fraud or coercion for the Purpose of compelling the victim to provide commercial sex acts or labor or services.

At a minimum, one element from each column must be present to establish a potential situation of human trafficking. The presence of force, fraud or coercion indicates that the victim has not consented of his or her own free will.

Remember that under federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is considered to be a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of any indicators of force, fraud, or coercion.

Who is at risk of Human Trafficking?

  • American citizens
  • Foreign nationals
  • Children
  • Men/ Women
  • Transgender/ Gender non-binary individuals
  • People with physical and/or developmental disabilities
  • People of all ages, races, ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, etc.
  • People living in urban, suburban, and rural contexts
  • Runaway and homeless youth

There is no "perfect victim."

Human trafficking can happen in virtually any context, to any person. However, individual vulnerabilities can increase a persons likeliness of experiencing trafficking.

Human trafficking does not always involve the movement of a person.