Sex Trafficking: a Multi-Billion Dollar Business

Written by: Dr Mary PhD
Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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The United States is dealing with a significant sex trafficking problem right before our eyes. Globally, the sex trafficking industry earns billions yearly, with individual “pimps” making hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because of their significant immigrant populations, California, Texas, and New York are among the top three states for sex trafficking. Salinas and nearby Monterey County are home to many foreign-born residents. Criminals in sex trafficking often visit these sites in search of fresh victims.

Sex traffickers utilize a variety of deceptions and traps in their predation.

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Manipulation, intimidation, and promising lucrative opportunities in industries such as modeling, dancing, and singing are all possibilities. However, victims of sex trafficking frequently develop romantic affection for their perpetrators. When victims develop an emotional attachment to their pimp, it may be more difficult for them to discern danger.

Sex traffickers will take advantage of you if you are vulnerable. In addition to these methods, sex traffickers often seek victims in hotels, motels, bogus massage parlors, by text message, and by monitoring online advertising. Victims of abuse and manipulation often express feeling imprisoned and unable to escape. Victims who form emotional relationships with their pimps find it far more difficult to quit or seek assistance.

Coercion, intimidation, and manipulation are common in the thriving “underground” sector of sex trafficking, as sex traffickers influence their victims into selling sex. It is no secret that the sex trade is growing in the United States. Because of this illicit industry’s expansion, sex traffickers are always looking for new victims. Many assume that those working in the sex industry choose to be homeless. Everyone in the country is affected by sex trafficking.

The issue exists in the United States and impacts American citizens; it is closer than most believe. When looking for fresh victims, sex traffickers look for people more susceptible to their schemes. It is tough to escape once drawn into the sex trafficking industry. Cases from the area may show how easily sex traffickers may gain control and influence over their victims.


Many people are victims of sex trafficking, which is usually compared to modern slavery. Salinas and Monterey County are desirable sex trafficking targets due to their proximity to San Francisco. Human trafficking is most prevalent in Florida, Louisiana, and Arizona, with California, Texas, and New York following closely (Lillie). Immigrant populations are significant in all three of these states. In these densely populated areas, sex traffickers may use several ways to entice victims, such as phony or deceptive employment offers.

As Lillie points out, these three states have many features, including a high proportion of immigrants and a high proportion of homeless, runaway, and foster care children (especially in New York) (2013). Human trafficking may be difficult to detect in these areas, as it is in immigrant communities. This is because there is typically no one searching for these people and little likelihood of finding them. This makes it more difficult for authorities to rescue victims and more profitable for traffickers to keep their hold on victims.

Researchers believe that global human trafficking generates roughly $150 billion every year. The commercial sex industry generates USD 99.9 billion yearly (“Human trafficking by the numbers”). This illegal enterprise relies on human trafficking. Even though sex trafficking is a multibillion-dollar industry, traffickers defraud their victims for hundreds of millions each year. Sex traffickers earn “approximately $24,000 per month or $642,000 per year without paying taxes,” according to Frundt (2005). (para. 13).

It is more difficult for law enforcement to uncover sex trafficking if traffickers conceal their money. When victims of sex trafficking complete their nightly quota, the traffickers sometimes keep most of their profits. Larson relates a local incident where eight ladies were rescued from a sex trafficking network (2018). The traffickers arranged encounters between victims and buyers and pocketed the proceeds. Among the victims, they located a fugitive. Human traffickers use their victims’ bodies as commodities in the sex trade and use various tactics to prevent their victims from fleeing.

Sexual traffickers use assault, intimidation, and deceit to maintain control over their victims and the income they generate. Traffickers employ these strategies to recruit and retain their victim populations. A Polaris Project poll found that “many victims build emotional relationships with individuals who force or manipulate them into prostitution” (Polaris, para. 3). Human traffickers often pay house visits to their victims and treat them with warmth and sympathy to urge them to open up. The traffickers, according to Frundt, sow the “seeds of manipulation” (2005). Human traffickers may recruit victims at truck stops, hotels, motels, and even massage parlors by making false job and benefit claims.

Sex traffickers have recently started using internet adverts and SMS messages to trace victims’ phones and entice them. When a trafficker falls in love with a victim, the victim may be blind to the danger. These “whores” are experts at exploiting flaws. The longer victims are held captive inside the organization, the more verbal and physical abuse they get from their traffickers and customers. As a result, people may begin to mistrust their values and blame themselves for their predicament. If victims of sex trafficking lose hope of ever leaving their situation, they will be less likely to seek help. Even if victims are taken in as youngsters and adults, they grow dependent on their trafficker. This, once again, makes it impossible for them to leave.

Personal Bias

My interest in this subject stems primarily from my engagement with the Salinas Police Explorers. Because law enforcement has always piqued my interest, I view this program as an excellent opportunity to further my education, improve as a person, and widen my professional and civic horizons. Due to the “hidden” nature of sex trafficking, law enforcement may have difficulty apprehending and apprehending criminals.

If I went into law enforcement, one of my main goals would be to learn about sex trafficking and its related industries. Although sex trafficking is not as prevalent or handled in the Salinas area, it is still a severe problem. Furthermore, as a local, I am frightened that I or those I care about may become victims of sex traffickers. Because human trafficking may touch anybody, I believe it is vital to raise awareness about the issue. Although anybody may become a victim of sex slavery, I think it is hazardous for young girls.

The capacity to operate undetected has allowed the sex trafficking industry to thrive for decades. Given the gravity of the situation, the public must be made aware of and educated about it. Everyone should be mindful of the signs of sex trafficking. Sex traffickers use mobile phones to contact potential victims through fake web ads and SMS. Sexual slavers may trace their victims’ activities and even post phony job advertisements and SMS messages. Although combating sex trafficking is complex, informing the public is an essential first step.

Works Cited

  1. Frundt, Tina. “Enslaved in america: Sex trafficking in the United States.” Women’s Funding Network. (2005) Retrieved from
  2. Lillie, M. “Top 3 states for human trafficking. Human Trafficking Search.” (2013). Retrieved from
  3. Larson, Amy. “8 girls rescued from salinas human trafficking ring. KSBW 8.” (2018, 16 Feb). Retrieved from
  4. Ahmed, A. “Think again: prostitution. ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher.” (2014). Retrieved from
  5. Human trafficking by the numbers. Human rights first. Retrieved from
  6. Human trafficking state laws. NCSL. Retrieved from
  7. Sex trafficking. Polaris. Retrieved from

Annotated Bibliography

Ahmed. Think again: prostitution. ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher. 2005. Retrieved from

This article addresses misconceptions concerning sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is one of the oldest enterprises and has been around for a long time. The report says that making prostitution criminal will not stop sex trafficking. Criminalizing activity, like narcotics, alcohol, and firearms, will not stop its usage. This is essential because it explains what has allowed sex trafficking to thrive.

Frundt Tina. Enslaved in America: sex trafficking in the United States. Women’s Funding Network. 2005. Retrieved from

This article describes the tale told from the perspective of someone who has been a victim of sex trafficking. The victim relates the abuse she suffered while working as a sex worker. Her pimp took advantage of her vulnerability to get her services. Her pimp convinced her to flee with him, then brought her to Ohio to meet the three other women he had deceived into prostitution. Later, the author describes the financial “quota” she was obligated to fulfill and the consequences of failing to do so. She elaborates on the anguish and suffering she faced by recounting her story. Those who engage in sex trafficking make a lot of money.

This report is helpful for my homework since it discusses the industry dynamics of sex trafficking and the techniques pimps use to attract consumers. This sheds light on the victimization process and explains how these people ended themselves in this situation.

Human trafficking state laws. NCSL. Retrieved from
This article discusses the definitions of human and sex trafficking in a few states, as well as the sanctions associated with them. Those who pay for prostitution or solicitation, like sex traffickers, may face felony and misdemeanor charges in many jurisdictions. Methods of coercion, deception, and force are also discussed in the article. A sex trafficker is someone who engages in any of these actions against a victim. This article is beneficial to me since it outlines local and state legislation about prostitution and sex trafficking; I may utilize this information to find local instances to add to my research report.

Larson, Army. 8 girls rescued from Salinas human trafficking ring. KSBW 8. 2018, February 16. Retrieved from

This article discusses a recent case of sex trafficking in the area. In Salinas, a sex trafficking ring victimized eight teenage and young adult ladies. Four males were arrested when it was discovered that they were involved in the trafficking and prostitution of these women. With one exception, the majority of the females were Salinas locals. The guys drugged and drunkenly photographed the ladies in various stages of undress for online advertising goals. The eight young females were taken through Salinas’ hotels and streets. When one of their sex traffickers in Salinas could not find a buyer, they were brought to San Jose and sedated before being made for promenading through a shopping mall. Some girls were soon reunited with their families after their rescue, while others were put in a “protective environment.” This article is relevant to my research since it is a case study on my subject. Because this occurrence occurred so recently, it is clear that sex trafficking is a profitable industry. Furthermore, one of the girls was a runaway, and past research has shown that teenagers who have escaped home are more likely to become victims of sex trafficking.

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

The author identifies the top three states where human trafficking thrives and investigates the characteristics that make these locations enticing to traffickers. Human trafficking is prevalent in the Big Three because of the enormous number of foreign-born residents in California, Texas, and New York. Human traffickers may find easy victims among New York’s homeless, fugitives, and foster youngsters.
Given the proximity of California and Texas to the US-Mexico border, it is not surprising that traffickers target residents in both states. The story is relevant to my study because of Monterey County’s sizeable immigrant population. Because no one is looking for victims of sex trafficking, this community is particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Nobody looks for missing illegal immigrants, runaways, foster children, or homeless people. Furthermore, I could use this data to predict which groups are most vulnerable to becoming victims of sex trafficking.

Sex trafficking. Polaris. Retrieved from

This article provides an overview of sex trafficking and information on its prevalence, the characteristics of those most vulnerable, and the usual earnings from such activities. Human trafficking is increasingly being seen as a kind of slavery. It indicates that not all people who work in the street sex industry do so freely. Many victims, according to accounts, fell in love with their pimps before being persuaded into sex trafficking. Other seduction strategies include phony employment offers and outright fabrications. The article discusses how massage parlors, hotels, and truck stops may be fronts for sex trafficking groups. This essay is relevant to my research since it describes the tactics and places utilized by sex traffickers to seek victims. Regarding the concentration of sex workers in Salinas, I am now better qualified to judge whether or not the paper results correspond with known sex trafficking hotspots.

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