Human Trafficking – A Modern Day Slavery by Alina Lopez 

A form of modern day slavery exists all around us, and not just nationally, but worldwide. You may have seen local ads or PSA’s addressing this problem or have heard on the news about sex trafficking rings, but what exactly is human trafficking and how can you spot and report this crime? 

Defined as an act that involves the recruitment, transportation, harboring, sale, or receipt of persons through the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor, domestic servitude, debt bondage, or commercial sex act. Traffickers target individuals who are susceptible for a number of reasons, such as psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, or political instability. Contrary to what most believe, human trafficking victims are not solely immigrants. We have seen many cases of juvenile sex trafficking of American children. The victims can be of any age, race, gender, immigration status, and socio-economic level.  

The biggest sector of trafficking in the world, according to the U.S. Department of State, is forced or involuntary servitude. Another form of human trafficking is debt bondage which is where a person is forced to work to pay off a debt. Sex trafficking, another type of trafficking, is where the victim is forced to participate in commercial sex acts. Yearly, traffickers exploit 1 million children in the commercial sex trade. The types of labor, to name a few, can include domestic servitude, agricultural work, manufacturing, health and elder care, hair and nail salons, prostitution, and strip club dancing.  

As a community, there are some red flags that help identify human trafficking.  

  • Does the person have freedom of movement? 
  • Are they allowed to socialize or attend religious services? 
  • Has the victim been harmed or deprived of life necessities such as food, water, sleep, or medical care? 
  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive? 
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say? 
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts? 
  • Victim has no ID or their documents are held by their trafficker. 

Note that not all indicators are present in every situation and the presence or lack of any of these signs is necessarily proof of human trafficking.  

How can neighborhood watch aid in the detection, deterrence, and reporting of this crime? Human trafficking cases are being seen right under our noses in our own backyards. This is why it’s so important to know who belongs or doesn’t in your neighborhood. At least recognize immediate neighbors and their vehicles and recognize if something seems out of place. You’re not being a nosy neighbor; in fact, you may be saving someone’s life.  

Be on the lookout if: 

  • There are unusually high number of people living at a residence who don’t seem to be related. 
  • Curtains are drawn at all times. 
  • Tenants who avoid eye contact or interaction with others and seem anxious. 
  • Someone who appears to be a family member but is dressed very differently or has a significantly lower level of hygiene than the rest of the household. 
  • Abnormal amount of traffic to and from the property. 
  • People who are shuttled to and from the property every day in large vehicles and who return at the same time.  

Again, keep in mind not all these are indicators that there’s human trafficking occurring, but it’s something to keep an eye out and report. 

The safety of the public and of victims is of greatest importance! Do not attempt to confront a suspect or a victim directly. It is up to law enforcement to investigate the situation. Your only role is to report any suspicious activity. Remember, your second look can be their second chance.  

To report possible human trafficking, contact 1-888-373-7888 or your local police department. 

To contact our office, you can reach us at 305-470-1670 or visit our website  

Until next time, be aware, make good choices, and be safe! 


Written by : Alina Lopez

Citizen’s Crime Watch of Miami-Dade

Citizens’ Crime Watch is a nonprofit county-wide crime prevention program funded by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, grants and donations.