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Human Trafficking


Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that subjects children, women, and men to force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor.  This horrific practice can include prostitution, pornography, and sex tourism, as well as labor for domestic service, factory or construction work, and migrant farming. Globally, human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry.  Victims suffer from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and rarely have access to education or healthcare.

Anyone can be trafficked regardless of class, education, gender, or age when forcefully coerced or lured by false promises.  The high demand for cheap goods and commercial sex puts children around the world at risk of becoming the “supply.” ¹  Between 2007 and 2010, the global percentage of detected child victims was 27 percent. Of every three child victims, two are girls and one is a boy.²  According to the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report from the U.S. State Department, estimates of the number of victims of human trafficking remain in the tens of millions worldwide.

Globally, profits made from the use of forced labor are estimated at $150 billion per year.³ Profits, by sector:
•$99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation
•$34 billion in construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities
•$9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing
•$8 billion dollars is saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers under conditions of forced labor

There are an estimated 57,700 people in modern slavery in the US, according to 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates.  In 2015, more than 90% of sex trafficking cases and 57% of labor trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center involved women. That same year, the NHTRC received 24,757 contacts regarding human trafficking. More than 75% of the cases were related to sex trafficking, 13% were related to labor trafficking, and 3% were related to both. Thirty-three percent of sex trafficking cases and 16% of labor trafficking cases involved children.

In the last few years, a significant shift has occurred in the media’s reporting of human trafficking, from dramatic exposes to in-depth original research and agenda-setting public-interest reporting.  These media reports have helped change the way the public looks at human trafficking – from a crime that happens to “others” to one that has an impact on people’s everyday lives, in nearly every community and region of the world. 4

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.  Help us bring the criminal element to justice, because one victim is too many.  Learn the warning signs and resources available to help.

Can YOU recognize the warning signs of human trafficking?  

  • Living with employer
  • Poor living conditions
  • Multiple people in cramped space
  • Inability to speak to individual alone
  • Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
  • Employer is holding identity documents
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • Submissive or fearful
  • Unpaid or paid very little
  • Under 18 and in prostitution


Labor trafficking is another form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Labor trafficking includes situations of debt bondage, forced labor, and involuntary child labor.

Victims of trafficking may be found in any industry with a demand for cheap labor and a lack monitoring:

  • Agriculture  and farms
  • Domestic work
  • Hostess and strip clubs
  • Restaurants and food service industry
  • Factories
  • Peddling and begging rings
  • Hospitality industry

Victims of labor trafficking include men, women, families, or children as young as five years old who harvest crops and raise animals in fields, packing plants, orchards, and nurseries. Victims of this form of trafficking include U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, undocumented immigrants, and foreign nationals with temporary work visas.  Agricultural work is often isolated and transient, and income can be irregular.  Workers often see peaks and lulls in employment due to changing harvest seasons, and may travel throughout the country to find work.  Unscrupulous crew leaders exploit these conditions of vulnerability, adding debt, violence and threats to hold farmworkers in conditions of servitude.

UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2012
Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour, International Labour Office, 2014
U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, 2017


If your business or organization would like to help us fight human trafficking, contact our office at (406) 444-2026.

If your organization or civic group would like a presentation about human trafficking, contact our office at (406) 444-2026 or email us at: [email protected]


Video Links:

Print and post Montana’s Human Trafficking Awareness poster in your community:

Hospitality Industry Links:

Other links:

These organizations and services are provided for information only. This does not constitute an endorsement by the Attorney General’s Office or the Montana Department of Justice. Estimates pertaining to human and labor trafficking vary.
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