Sex Trafficking: a Multi-Billion Dollar Business

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Sex trafficking is a serious issue in our nation and it’s happening right under our noses.  The sex trafficking business makes billions of dollars a year globally and sex traffickers or “pimps” are able to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. The top 3 states for sex trafficking being California, Texas, and New York due to a few factors, one of which includes large immigrant populations. The Salinas and Monterey County community happens to be made up of a large number of immigrants. Sex traffickers are drawn to these areas to look for new victims.

Sex traffickers use many ruses and tactics to lure in their victims. Some of these tactics may included manipulation, threats, false promises of jobs like modeling, dancing, and singing. However, victims are often romantically involved with their trafficker before they are forced into sex trafficking. When victims are romantically involved with their pimp, it can be harder to see the signs that they are falling into a trap.

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Sex traffickers will find weakness and exploit them. Along with these ruses, some common areas in which sex traffickers will look for victims are hotels, motels, fake massage businesses, and via text or online ad tracking. The abuse and manipulation that takes place often makes it difficult for the victims to escape or want to escape. Victims can become dependent on their pimps make it even more difficult to leave or seek help.

Sex trafficking is the booming “underground” business in which coercion, threats, and manipulation is used by sex traffickers to force their victims into selling sex. The sale of sex has become a growing business all across America. With the growth of this criminal business, sex traffickers are constantly on the lookout for more men, women, and children to lure into sex trafficking. It is a common misconception that sex workers are willfully out on the streets when in reality, many of them are victims. Sex trafficking is both a national and local issue which affects the whole community.

It’s happening in America with Americans, the problem is closer to home than many believe it is. Sex traffickers look for vulnerable groups of people and use a multitude of tactics and ruses to bring in new victims to make their money. After someone is lured into the sex trafficking business, it becomes difficult to escape and simply run away. Local cases can show how easy it is for sex trafficker to control and manipulate their victims.


Sex trafficking is considered to be today’s form of slavery with many falling victim to the business. It is areas like Salinas and Monterey County which attract sex traffickers the most. California, Texas, and New York are ranked top 3 in human trafficking activity (Lillie, 2013). All three of these states have very large immigrant populations. With these large communities of immigrants, sex traffickers can use any one of their ruses, such as false or misleading job offerings,  to lure in victims.

According to Lillie (2013), along with large immigrant populations, these three states share another thing in common: large numbers of homeless, runaways, and foster care children, especially in New York. Like with immigrants, if any member of these populations are trafficked, it can go almost undetected. The reason being that these people often have no one looking for them or hardly any way to track them. Thus making it harder for these victims to be rescued by authorities and easier for traffickers to keep the victims in their control and continue to make their money.

The human trafficking business as a whole is a multi- billion dollar business making an estimated 150 billion dollars a year globally. The sale of commercial sex alone makes 99 billion dollars a year (“Human trafficking by the numbers,” 2017). Even though this business is in a way hidden it still manages to prosper through selling human beings. While sex trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business, sex traffickers manage to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from their victims earnings. According to Frundt (2005), sex traffickers make “about $24,000 a month or $642,000 a year tax free,” (para. 13). 

If traffickers are making their money off the table, it only makes it more difficult for authorities to detect sex trafficking activity. Sex traffickers expect a certain quota to be met a night by their victims then often keep most, if not all, of their victims earnings. Larson (2018) reports on a local case in which eight girls were rescued from a sex trafficking ring. Their traffickers set up meeting between victims and purchasers, would keep the money from those deal. One of the victims also happened to be a runaway. Traffickers exploit their victims and their bodies to sell them as objects for sex then continue to use ploys to make it more difficult for the victims to escape.

Sex traffickers control the money made and their victims with the use of violence, threats, and manipulation. These tactics are used by traffickers to lure victims in and keep them there. According to Polaris Project, “Many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces or manipulates them into prostitution,” (Polaris, para. 3). Traffickers will come in a give their victims attention, making them feel special and understood. This is what Frundt (2005) refers to as the traffickers planting “seeds of manipulation”. Traffickers can also attract victims through false promises of jobs and fake businesses or other venues such as: truck stops, hotels, motels, and even massage parlors.

More recently, sex traffickers have began utilizing online ads and text message to track mobile electronics and capture their victims.When the trafficker becomes romantically involved with their victim, the victims can become blinded and fail to see that their falling into a trap. These “pimps” are able to find weaknesses and use them to their advantage. As the victims spend more time in trapped in the business, they are verbally and physically abused by their traffickers and clients. Which can lead to them losing their sense of self worth and developing a feeling that the situation they are in is their fault. Losing hope in escaping the life of sex trafficking makes it harder for victims to attempt to break free. Also, if victims are brought in at a young age, once they become adults, they are dependent on their trafficker. Once again, making it difficult for them to simply leave.

Personal Bias

One of the main reasons I took a particular  interest in this topic is because of my involvement in the Salinas Police Explorers. I have a great interest in law enforcement and in this program I have been able to learn more about career options in law along with becoming a more active member of the community. Sex trafficking is a serious issue and it can be very difficult for police officers to catch sex traffickers and make arrests due to “hidden” nature of this crime.

As someone who is interested in law enforcement, I would like to gain more knowledge about issues such as sex trafficking and how the business thrives in order to put a stop to it. Even sex trafficking may not be seen or talked about as much, it is an issue that affects our community of salinas. Also, as a member of this community, I fear that those I care for or I can become victims of sex trafficking. Any one of us are at risk of being trafficked and I felt it was important to bring awareness to the topic. While anyone can become a victim of sex trafficking, I also feel that sex trafficking is one of the threats we face as teenagers, especially girls.

The sex trafficking business has managed to prosper for so long because it has been able to hide in plain sight. Therefore, it is important to spread awareness on the seriousness of this issue along with educate the community about this issue. It is important for everyone to know the signs of sex trafficking. Today, sex trafficking business can find victims through the use of mobile phones by online ad scams or via text message. With ads or text messages, sex traffickers are able to track devices or post fake job opportunities. There is no clear way to put a stop to sex trafficking but spreading awareness is the first step to finding solutions to this issue.


  1. Ahmed, A. (2014). Think again: prostitution. ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher. Retrieved from
  2. Frundt, T. (2005). Enslaved in america: Sex trafficking in the united states. Women’s Funding Network. Retrieved from
  3. Human trafficking by the numbers. Human rights first. Retrieved from
  4. Human trafficking state laws. NCSL. Retrieved from
  5. Larson, A. (2018, 16 Feb). 8 girls rescued from salinas human trafficking ring. KSBW 8. Retrieved from
  6. Lillie, M. (2013). Top 3 states for human trafficking. Human Trafficking Search. Retrieved from
  7. Sex trafficking. Polaris. Retrieved from






Annotated Bibliography

Ahmed, A. (2014). Think again: prostitution. ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher. Retrieved from

This article discusses misconceptions about sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is one of the world’s oldest professions. The article also goes into say that by making prostitution illegal, it will not abolish sex trafficking. Which is true because like drugs, alcohol, or guns, just by making it illegal will not resolve the issue. This is relevant because it provides an understanding on how and why the sex trafficking industry has survived for so long.

Frundt, T. (2005). Enslaved in america: sex trafficking in the united states. Women’s Funding Network. Retrieved from

This article tells a real story of being a victim of sex trafficking from the viewpoint of a victim. The victim describes what she had to  endure while she was in working as a sex worker. Her sex trafficker or “pimp” lured her in by finding her weakness and exploiting it. After convincing her to run a away with him, her pimp took her to Ohio to meet the three other girls he had lured into sex  trafficking. The author then continues onto talk about the amount of money she was expected to make and what would happen if she failed to meet her “quota”. She describes horrible experiences and pain she endured. Sex trafficking is a big business and a big moneymaker for sex traffickers.

This article is relevant to my research because it helps me understand how the sex trafficking business works and what methods pimps use to lure in victims. It helps me better understand how victims end up in this situation in the first place.

Human trafficking state laws. NCSL. Retrieved from

This article goes over how some of the states define human and/or sex trafficking and what penalties those who participate in it can receive. Some of the states punish those who purchase sex the same as sex traffickers, usually with felony crimes and/or misdemeanors for paying for prostitution or solicitation. The article also provides forms of force, fraud, or coercion. If one was commit these against against another, it would qualify them as a sex trafficker. This article is useful to my research because I can talk about the local and state laws associated with prostitution and sex trafficking and with that I can look into local cases to include in my paper.

Larson, A. (2018, 16 Feb). 8 girls rescued from salinas human trafficking ring. KSBW 8. Retrieved from

This article reports on a local case of sex trafficking. Eight girls from ages 14-19 were victims of a sex trafficking ring in Salinas. Four men were arrested for trafficking and pimping these girls. Most of the girls were from Salinas or around the area and one of the girls was a runaway. They were given drugs and alcohol then the men took photos of the partially nude to post them on social media in an attempt to solicit possible purchasers for sexual encounters with the girls. The eight girls were forced to walked along hotels and streets in Salinas. They were also taken outside of Salinas, one instance being San Jose where they were given drugs and forced to walk around one of the malls while one of their sex traffickers tried to find a buyer. After the girls were rescued, some of them were reunited with their families and others where taken to a “safe environment”. This article applies to my research because it is a local case. The fact that this case is also recent comes to show that the business of sex trafficking has not “died down”. Also, the article mentioned one girl was a runaway and in a previous source it had mentioned runaways are one of the populations most vulnerable to being sex trafficked.

Lillie, M. (2013). Top 3 states for human trafficking. Human Trafficking Search. Retrieved from

In this article, the author lists the top 3 states in which the human trafficking business is more successful and what common factors between those three states attract human traffickers. California, Texas, and New York are listed as the top states for human trafficking mostly because of their large immigrant communities. New York also has a large number of homeless peoples, runaways, and foster care children which can be vulnerable targets for human traffickers.

Both California and Texas are close to the Mexico-America Border, which means traffickers can easily target populations from Mexico too. This article applies to my research because our community, the Monterey County, is made up of a large immigrant population. These population are especially at risk of being trafficked because no one is looking for these people once they are taken into sex trafficking. Undocumented immigrants, runaways, foster children, and homeless people more often than not have no one that is putting in the effort to look for them once they go missing. With that said, this article also helped me pinpoint groups of people are more at risk of being sex trafficked.

Sex trafficking. Polaris. Retrieved from

This article provides a general definition of sex trafficking and also provides statistics of how many sex trafficking cases there are, who is at risk, and how much money the sex trafficking business makes on average. They describe sex trafficking as “a modern form of slavery”. This really puts into perspective the fact that not all sex workers are willingly on the streets. The article also says that many of the victims are romantically involved with their pimp before being lured into sex trafficking. Victims are lured in by the use of many ruses such a false promises of a job and manipulation. The article also mentions that sex trafficking businesses can hide in a range of venues such as fake massage businesses, via online ads and escort services, and in hotels, motels, or truck stops. This article applies to my research because it discusses which tactics sex traffickers use to lure in victims and where sex traffickers can be looking for their victims. This is important information for my research because I can discuss where in Salinas sex workers are more commonly seen and how the information in the article correlates with locations in Salinas where sex trafficking happens.

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Sex Trafficking: A Multi-Billion Dollar Business. (2019, Sep 28). Retrieved from