Trafficking in Persons 101

What is TIP?


What is Trafficking in Persons?

Trafficking in persons, also called human trafficking, is a crime and a human rights abuse. The three most common forms of trafficking in persons (TIP) that DoD personnel may encounter are:

  • Sex trafficking
  • Labor trafficking (also called forced labor)
  • Child soldiering

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 defined “severe forms of trafficking in persons” in 22 U.S.C. 7102 (11) as:

  1. Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which a person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; OR

  2. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, using force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery

    • Sex trafficking means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. -22 U.S.C. 7102 (12)
    • The term “commercial sex act” means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person. - 22 U.S.C. 7102 (3)
    • Labor trafficking includes involuntary servitude; peonage; debt bondage; and slavery.

The term child soldier is defined in the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 as:

  • Any person under 18 years of age who takes direct part in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces;
  • Any person under 18 years of age who has been compulsorily recruited into governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces;
  • Any person under 15 years of age who has been voluntarily recruited into governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces; or
  • Any person under 18 years of age who has been recruited or used in hostilities by armed forces distinct from the armed forces of a state.

Child soldiers are forced to fight but also used as: cooks, porters, messengers, medics, guards, spies, and sex slaves.

How TIP Occurs? (could include Force, Fraud, Coercion)


How Trafficking Occurs (The A-M-P Model)

Force, Fraud, and Coercion

Traffickers use force, fraud, and coercion to compel victims to perform labor or services or commercial sex acts.

Here are some examples of force, fraud, and coercion drawn from actual cases. Please note, these examples do not comprise an all-inclusive list.


  • Physical assault such as being hit, kicked, punched, stabbed, strangled, burned, shot, raped
  • Confinement such as being locked in a room or closet, handcuffed, tied up, bound, or otherwise physically prevented from moving or leaving a situation
  • Drugging a person to incapacitate him/her


  • False promises of a better job, good pay, new life in the U.S., better circumstances for one’s family
  • Use of fraudulent travel documents such as passports or visas
  • False advertising

Physical Coercion

  • Putting a gun to someone’s head
  • Holding a person at knifepoint
  • Threatening to hit or hurt someone

Psychological Coercion

  • Threats or intimidation against the victim or victim’s family, including threats to physically harm a loved one
  • Blackmail (such as threatening to release nude photos of a person)
  • Threats of deportation or sending someone to jail
  • Showing a person a dead body and intimating that if the person doesn’t cooperate he/she will end up the same way

Who Are the Victims?


Who are the Victims?

Victims can be:

  • Any gender, age, race, nationality, ethnicity, social status, economic background, or immigration status
  • Female or male
  • Adult or child
  • Foreign national or U.S. citizen
  • Homeless youth
  • Undocumented migrants
  • People displaced by civil conflicts and natural disasters
  • Service members, DoD civilians, DoD contractor employees, and DoD family members

Where Are Victims Found?


Where are victims of human trafficking found?

Victims of sex trafficking can be found anywhere, but are often found in:

  • Bars and Brothels
  • Dance clubs and strip clubs
  • Massage parlors and spas
  • Escort services
  • Private parties
  • Pornography industry
  • On the Internet

In the DoD, labor trafficking has occurred in contracts that cover labor intensive industries such as:

  • Food services
  • Janitorial and disposal services
  • Truck and driver services
  • Security guards
  • Construction work

Who Are the Traffickers?


Who are the traffickers?

traffickers can be:

  • Any gender, age, race, nationality, ethnicity, social status, economic background, or immigration status
  • Members of organized crime groups
  • Terrorist organizations
  • Gangs and warlords
  • Pimps
  • Business owners
  • Family members
  • Service members, DoD civilians, DoD contractors, and DoD family members

Vulnerabilities - Associated with TIP and with TIP Victims


Vulnerabilities Associated with TIP

Traffickers prey on victims with little or no social safety net. They look to exploit victims for cheap labor by preying on individuals in vulnerable situations due to economic hardship, illegal immigration status, political instability, natural disasters, and other causes. Traffickers also exploit people who are vulnerable because of their age. It is important to note that legal migrants can also be vulnerable to trafficking.

Vulnerabilities associated with trafficking victims include:

  • Poverty or economic hardship
  • Political instability or armed conflict
  • Natural disasters
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems
  • Runaway and homeless youth
  • Victims of violence
  • Migrant workers
  • Undocumented immigrants
  • Racial, ethnic, and other minorities
  • Physical or cognitive disabilities
  • History of substance abuse
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) individuals



Indicators of TIP

Be alert for signs that may indicate trafficking in persons is taking place and follow the appropriate procedures for reporting this type of incident. Please note the following list is not all-inclusive.

Physical/Environmental Indicators:

  • Signs of physical abuse (i.e., bruises, cuts, and/or broken bones)
  • Serious communicable diseases
  • Injuries from violence or hazardous work conditions
  • No ID (i.e., passport and/or papers)
  • Escorted or closely monitored at all times
  • Someone speaks for them
  • In debt bondage to employer
  • Live or work in unsafe conditions
  • Live at or are confined to their worksite
  • Exposure to toxic or hazardous materials
  • Evidence of a sexually explicit online advertisement, especially of minors

Psychological/Behavioral Indicators

  • Fearful
  • Submissive
  • Anxious
  • Angry
  • Aggressive, antagonistic, or defensive
  • Depressed
  • Substance abuse
  • Dependent on others
  • Unsure where they are

What Can I Do?


What Can I Do?

Some methods for combating trafficking in persons are things you can do:

  • Learn the signs and indicators of trafficking in persons
  • Stay informed: CTIP PMO has a website, newsletter, and resources to learn more about combating TIP in DoD –
  • Don’t engage in prohibited activities
  • Follow your command/agency reporting procedures
  • Report all suspected abuses through your Chain of Command or Inspector General

Where Can I Report?


Where can I report TIP incidents?

  • Report anything suspicious that you see to your chain of command
  • You can report incidents to your local DoD IG office, through the DoD IG Hotline at 1-800-424-9098, or visit their website at hotline
  • In the U.S. – National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888
  • Report and avoid any establishments or persons that you believe may be involved in TIP
  • Never act ALONE, you may want to help, but trafficking situations are dangerous
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