Detecting, Investigating and Prosecuting Traffickers

Research conducted by NIJ grantees has uncovered several key findings:

  • Most cases of trafficking start with a tip to law enforcement, but the tip usually does not come from the victim. Most cases go forward to prosecution, but most are not charged as trafficking cases per se. They are prosecuted under older laws, such as those against promoting prostitution. [1]
  • Trafficking victims often have contact with local law enforcement authorities, but because local law enforcement agents lack sufficient training, they fail to notice the victims or take appropriate action to bring them to safety. [2]
  • When authorities have had success arresting traffickers, nongovernmental organizations have provided intelligence to help. In addition, these organizations helped stabilize victims so that they could cooperate with law enforcement. [3]


[1] Farrell, A., J. McDevitt, R. Pfeffer, S. Fahy. "Identifying Challenges to Improve the Investigation and Prosecution of State and Local Human Trafficking Cases" (pdf, 323 pages). Final report to the National Institute of Justice, June 2012, NCJ 238795. 

[2] [3] Bales, K., and S. Lize. "Trafficking in Persons in the United States." Final report to the National Institute of Justice, March 2005, NCJ 211980.

Date Modified: June 18, 2012