Prior to the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, the U.S. used old slavery and involuntary servitude laws to target traffickers. There was a major problem with these laws, however—they required proving bodily harm. Today, we know that not all traffickers rely on physical violence to control their victims. Oftentimes, traffickers use coercion and fraud to compel their victims to engage in commercial sex or forced labor. While these methods don’t leave any bruises, they can be just as manipulative and exploitative.
Luckily, many changes have occurred over the last two decades that make it easier to prosecute traffickers and hold them accountable for their crimes.
A document recently released by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), Ten Years of Sex Trafficking Cases in the United States, offers a list of examples of cases from the last 10 years that show how many tools prosecutors have at their disposal to incriminate traffickers. The TVPA outlines all of the federal laws on human trafficking that can be used to prosecute traffickers, but prosecutors may seek additional charges for related crimes.