• Rotary Westmoreland

Do you know the difference? Human trafficking vs. human smuggling

Human trafficking IS NOT human smuggling. Do you know the difference? This infographic explains that and more.

Human trafficking is the recruitment, harboring and transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery; whereas, human smuggling is often voluntary.

Human smuggling is defined as the facilitation, transport, attempted transportation or illegal entry of a person(s) across an international border, in violation of one or more countries’ laws, either clandestinely or through deception, such as the use of fraudulent documents.

You can see how they can easily be misunderstood. Participants in human smuggling may find him or herself the victim of human trafficking, and some of the key indicators of these crimes may look alike on the surface. That is why knowing the difference, what to look for and how to report it is very important.

The infographic points out those differentiators. ID and documentation is involved in both cases, but victims of trafficking often will not have access to their personal documents. In smuggling, the documents and IDs are likely fake and/or obtained illegally, but the person being smuggled will hold tight to those at all times.

As previously mentioned, those being trafficked are most likely being forced, tricked or bribed into service. Persons being smuggled consent to the terms and fees associated with being smuggled.

To be considered smuggling, the crossing of an international border illegally must occur. A victim of human trafficking may or may not originate from a country outside of ours. Many times the crime is committed by exploiting those born and raised here. He or she may have thought they were agreeing to travel from one country to another for work, but after arriving they find themselves doing work other than that they agreed. That work usually includes performing sexual acts.

Victims of human trafficking often live at their place of employment and are not permitted to leave on their own or must be chaparoned to do so. Often camera and security systems or guards are used to monitor and restrict their movement, and their pay is withheld by the employer until their "debt" is collected. If you notice "employees" who don't seem to leave their place of employment, make a note and be on the lookout for other warning signs.

Human smuggling may resemble human trafficking in this instance of working of debt, but those smuggled are not forced in to sexual acts or entrapment. This is an important differentiator.

Knowing what the warning signs arms you with the knowledge you need to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community.

Human trafficking red flags include the above mentioned living with the employer; visible or audible evidence of physical, sexual or mental abuse; a controlling relationship where one party does the speaking for the other, or suspected victim seems to have been groomed, coached or rehearsed responses to questions; presence of tattoos, branding or other special markings indicating ownership; signs of malnourishment, neglect or other abuse.

In the case of human smuggling, you may notice a frequent in- and out-flux of always different people on a regular basis and routine schedule; an overcrowding or poor living conditions; obscure facility or vehicles in which occupants/passenger(s) cannot be seen; unusual nighttime arrivals or departures from a location.

These only are a few of the warning signs for each. Rooted Outreach can provide additional information on human trafficking red flags as well as those for human smuggling.

You can learn more by attending ROW's Battle of the Beers Oktoberfest charity fundraiser, which benefits Rooted Outreach and their work. Tickets are on sale now at

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