Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit. To me, this definition describes modern day slavery. I believe that people in the United States don’t realize that human trafficking is happening in our own communities. There were 443 trafficking cases in 2018 – just in Ohio.
Many traffickers use psychological means to trick vulnerable victims. Migrants are often targeted by these traffickers because they are uniquely vulnerable, arriving in an unknown area with language barriers and little possessions. According to The Washington Post, a teen boy migrated to the U.S. border and was placed in a government-funded shelter. His uncle was supposed to come get him, but the boy was tragically handed over to traffickers who took him to northern Ohio and forced him to work on a chicken farm.
This boy, and several others who were undocumented from Guatemala, were discovered in 2014 in Marion, Ohio. The traffickers told the boy he had to work at the chicken farm to repay a “$20,000 debt” and if he tried to escape, they would “shoot his parents in the head.” Another boy reported, “being starved, sleeping in a rotting trailer full of cockroaches, and waking up at night fearful that these people will come and hurt me.” A total of eight boys and two adult men were forced to work 12-hour days, receiving $2 per day which was often withheld.
Seven people in this case were indicted for multiple charges of human trafficking and they all eventually pleaded guilty. I am happy to hear that they were charged and the FBI is still investigating deeper.
The Washington Post
U.S. Department of Justice
Emma Schrand, Mount St. Joseph University Service Learning Student