A Four-year Analysis of Labor Trafficking Cases in the United States: Exploring Characteristics and Labor Trafficking Patterns

Kristen Bracy, Bandak Lul, Dominique Roe-Sepowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The scope of labor trafficking in the United States has been difficult to estimate due to a number of factors including the hidden nature of the crimes of labor trafficking. This study explores a cross-section of arrests of labor traffickers from 2013 to 2016. Arrests if 125 labor traffickers from 47 cases were analyzed. Labor trafficking arrests were found in 20 states over the four years with Texas (34.4%) having the highest percentage of arrests. Victims of labor trafficking were from 16 countries, with Mexico being the country where most victims originated. Victims experienced labor trafficking in homes (35.2%), restaurants (34.4%), hotels (8%), apartments (6.4%), agriculture fields (4.8%), and group homes (4.8%). Staffing agencies were used prominently as recruiting tools by labor traffickers and violence was often used to retain the victim in the trafficking situation. Gender differences and differences between independent labor traffickers and criminal organizations were explored. Recommendations include the need for increased trainings for law enforcement and community members to improve detection as well as the need to enhance the current level of services available to labor trafficking victims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Human Trafficking
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • debt bondage
  • forced labor
  • labor exploitation
  • labor trafficker
  • Labor trafficking
  • trafficking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Anthropology
  • Transportation
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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