Human Trafficking

(en español)

What is Human Trafficking

  • Human trafficking happens all over Wisconsin, in urban and rural areas, all over the United States and around the world
  • Victims are often children, teens (all genders), but also adults
  • Gangs or individuals (aka traffickers) may pretend to be part of a legal business and gain financially by exploiting the victims
    • Victims of human trafficking can be any nationality and hold any immigration status
    • U.S. citizens and foreign nationals are equally protected under the federal trafficking statutes and Wisconsin state law
  • Traffickers manipulate their victims through force, fraud and coercion, and use psychological tactics to maintain control of their victims
    • Victims become dependent on their traffickers to meet their basic survival needs
    • Victims may become addicted and drugs are then used to exert influence
    • Victims often also suffer battery, sexual assault, physical abuse and financial crimes
    • Victims may be threatened to keep silent
  • Victims of trafficking often do not immediately seek help due to lack of trust, self-blame or manipulation by the traffickers

What is Human Trafficking?

Help Lines

If you feel you are in danger:

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Call (888) 373-7888 (to get help for yourself)
  • Text "HELP" to BeFree (233733)
  • Call (866) 347-2423 (to report suspected human trafficking)

Select a box below for additional links and information:

Sex trafficking

  • Victims are manipulated or forced against their will to engage in sex acts for money
  • Sex traffickers might use violence, threats, manipulation, or promise of love, security or affection to lure victims
  • Truck stops, hotel rooms, rest areas, street corners, clubs and private residences are just some of the places where victims are forced to sell sex

Forced labor

  • Victims often are found in factories, on farms, doing roofing or construction work, as nannies, maids or domestic help (domestic servitude), or in nail salons
  • Traffickers sometimes take a victim’s identification papers and travel documents in order to limit their freedom.
  • Through force, fraud or coercion, victims are made to work for little or no pay.

Human trafficking is different from human smuggling. Human smuggling is moving individuals across a country's border with that person's consent but in violation of immigration laws. However, it can turn into trafficking if the smuggler transports and uses force, fraud, or coercion to hold people against their will for the purposes of labor or sexual exploitation.

Recognize key indicators of human trafficking to help identify victims and save a life. A person who has been trafficked may:

  • Appear to be coached on what to say
    • Appear fearful, timid or submissive
    • Presence of unreasonable security measures
  • Show signs that their movement is controlled
  • Have bruises in various stages of healing
  • Work excessively long hours over long periods
    • Have no access to their earnings
    • Think that they are bonded by debt
  • Live in unstable or unsuitable conditions
    • Lack personal possessions
    • Dressed inappropriately for the weather

Signs to watch for among vulnerable youth

  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?

Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators are not necessarily proof of human trafficking.

Trafficking is a growing challenge across the country and here in Wisconsin. At the same time, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, along with private groups, are actively training and building awareness to combat this problem.

WisDOT shares the concern over human trafficking and is taking these steps to end it:

  • Included training in WisDOT Division of Motor Vehicles CDL School instruction
    • Commercial driver license (CDL) schools in Wisconsin must include instruction in the recognition and prevention of human trafficking. WisDOT provides materials to schools, free of charge, from the national non-profit Truckers Against Trafficking
  • Added information about how to spot and stop human trafficking in the CDL Driver’s Manual
  • Enforce federal rules that disqualify drivers for life from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) if convicted of using the CMV for human trafficking
  • Shared Homeland Security's Blue Campaign
  • Trained aviation personnel via WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics and the Blue Lightning Initiative
  • Raised awareness throughout the department through internal training and communication
  • Participates in the nationwide Human Trafficking Awareness Month each January and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative with social media, news release and other awareness efforts
  • Train all State Patrol sworn officers and recruits to identify indicators of Human Trafficking
  • Developed partnerships with commercial, professional and other organizations and provided trainings on identifying indicators of Human Trafficking
  • Ensure all new interstate companies go through an educational “New Entrant Safety Audit” by the Wisconsin State Patrol’s Motor Carrier Investigations Unit (MCIU). Companies receive educational materials, wallet cards, and posters about Human Trafficking and encouraged to report activity
  • Provide materials within the State Patrol Safety and Weight Enforcement (SWEF) facilities for the Commercial Motor Vehicle industry and drivers