Human trafficking is a shadow that lingers over the United States of America. Everyone knows it’s a problem, but nobody seems to know much about it. Conspiracy theories abound, most notably amongst QAnon theorists. I decided to try to set the record straight. What is human trafficking? Where is it occurring?
Human Trafficking and Washington, DC
Turns out, human trafficking occurs everywhere – even the United States’ capital. “It exists,” says one source, who requested anonymity. “Part of the problem with looking at the DMV area is that it’s a confluence of different jurisdictions. If you have a guy who is running a human trafficking ring that takes immigrant women from Mexico and uses them as prostitutes in DC, VA, and MD… you have [three different jursidctions] and can get kind of crazy.” My source adds that it’s the fastest growing type of organized crime. “You’re a patrol officer and you pull over a car and he has a block of heroin in the car, instant arrest. If you pull a man over and he has a woman in the passenger seat, it’s not so obvious.”
Fighting Human Trafficking
So what is being done to fight it? That’s complicated. “Technically the feds have jurisdiction over any… enterprise… but a lot of the footwork can be left to the police, who don’t always have the expertise to detect human trafficking… you can have the detectives who entered the department in 1990, when it was [rural] out here [in Prince William County, a suburb of Washington DC], and now it’s a city. They might not know how to talk to non-white people… if you grew up in a very rural county, that’s not really something you retained growing up.,” my source said.
Additionally, shutting down an operation in Washington, DC does not eliminate the problem. “Until you remove the conditions that created them, they’ll just keep coming back,” my source says.
How To Help
There are organizations devoted to fighting human trafficking. Perhaps the most prominent is Polaris Project, which runs a hotline devoted to helping victims of human trafficking. Prince William County Schools started a campaign to identify middle and high school students at risk of human trafficking. However, the most important thing the public can do is educate themselves about the facts of human trafficking. My source points out that human trafficking is divided into sex trafficking and labor trafficking. It’s also important to differentiate between fact and fiction: unsubstantiated rumors can do more harm than good.