Human Trafficking: Modern Slavery

Texas Penal Code Chapter 20A.02 governs the significant issue of human trafficking, also known as modern slavery.  It threatens security and human rights. Exploiting individuals through forced labor and commercial sex not only profits traffickers but also harms victims and communities. With a global estimate of approximately 27.6 million victims worldwide, it’s a widespread issue affecting diverse populations.

Prevalence and Cause

Texas consistently ranks second in National Human Trafficking Hotline calls and reported the highest cases in 2020. Human trafficking is not confined to specific locations; it manifests in various contexts, targeting victims through individuals they know or trust, such as family members, partners, or community figures, and trapping victims with false promises.

Anyone can become a victim of human trafficking. However, certain groups are more vulnerable to this crime. These groups include runaways, homeless individuals, undocumented immigrants, and those facing financial difficulties.

In particular, the accused may transport adult victims to Texas and coerce them into working or participating in commercial sexual exploitation against their consent.

The accused may sell children at a young age, and due to their inability to consent, they do not need to be forced or coerced to engage in forced labor or commercial sex.

Debt Bondage

Victims of forced labor might also become victims of debt bondage. This occurs when someone deceives them into working for minimal or no wages, solely to repay a debt.

Employers or those in control use different tricks to keep victims stuck in never-ending debt. This debt could potentially be transferred to their families. To prevent escape or seeking help, they employ poverty, threats, violence, surveillance, and confinement. This debt bondage can also play a big role in human trafficking.

Traffickers often lure their victims with the promise of a job in a different country, offering “free” travel as part of the deception. Alternatively, victims might obtain a loan from the employer or controller to cover travel expenses and a job placement fee. But when they arrive, they find out that the job doesn’t really exist or isn’t what they were told. Subsequently, they find themselves trapped in an attempt to repay that debt.

Victims of human trafficking endure the abuses in various spots like hotels, restaurants, factories, farms, childcare places, massage parlors, healthcare facilities, and bars alike. This reveals the widespread nature of the issue and emphasizes the importance of joint action to end it.

Trafficking consists of three main elements:

  • The act of trafficking, which involves recruiting, moving, harboring, or receiving people.
  • The means, including force, lies, pressure, abuse of power, or exploiting vulnerability.
  • The purpose, is consistently centered around exploitation.

Types of Human Trafficking

Labor Trafficking

Forced labor “acts” involve traffickers recruiting, moving, sheltering, providing, or obtaining people for work or services.

In forced labor, the “means” aspect includes traffickers using force, fraud, or coercion. This could involve threats, financial control, identity confiscation, psychological pressure, addiction exploitation, or harm to others.

The “purpose” is about traffickers aiming to exploit labor or services. They can do this in various sectors like agriculture, factories, restaurants, hotels, homes, and even illegal activities like drug operations.

We highlight certain types of forced labor more because they occur more often.

    • Domestic servitude, or domestic work, is forced labor in private homes, leaving victims isolated and vulnerable. Traffickers utilize control over essentials such as food and housing. Foreign domestic workers are at risk because of language and cultural differences.
    • Forced child labor is when the accused may make vulnerable children work, even if some work is legal. Despite the ban, individuals persist in the act of selling children. This needs to stop immediately to ensure their safety and well-being.

Sex Trafficking

The “acts” involve traffickers recruiting, sheltering, transporting, providing, obtaining, supporting, or soliciting individuals for commercial sex.

“Means” involve traffickers using force and/or fraud, which can include threats, psychological pressure, and manipulation of debts.

In sex trafficking, the “purpose” is commercial sex, occurring in different places like homes, parlors, hotels, and online.

    • Child Sex Trafficking engaging in the specified “acts” with a child under 18 for commercial sex is prohibited, regardless of the presence of force. This is unlawful in the United States and almost all other countries.

Consequences of Modern Slavery in Texas

First-Degree Felony
If minor victims are involved or if anyone dies as a result of trafficking-related incidents. As a result, this could lead to jail time ranging from five to 99 years, along with a fine of up to $10,000.

Second-Degree Felony
If the victim is an adult and there are no fatalities. Penalties for a second-degree felony include jail time ranging from two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

Facing human trafficking charges in Texas doesn’t automatically make someone guilty. It’s crucial to keep in mind that not everyone accused of this crime is actually playing a role. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s crucial to have a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side.

Throughout the legal process, Texas Criminal Defense Group eagerly defends your rights. Above all, we recognize the utmost importance of treating everyone with equal rights. In addition, our drive compels us to aid individuals accused of crimes in getting the most desired results in court.