Human trafficking generally does not occur as an isolated crime. Traffickers often commit other crimes as part of trafficking, such as work violations and physical assault, or victims may experience these crimes simultaneously. Law enforcement may encounter related crimes as they investigate trafficking cases, so prosecutors may be able to prosecute traffickers for multiple crimes; and in cases where there is not enough evidence for a human trafficking conviction, they may still be able to charge the trafficker with the related crimes and obtain a conviction. The following groups of laws often intersect with human trafficking crimes.
Federal Labor Exploitation Laws
The Fair Labor Standards Act, first passed in 1938, is a federal civil labor law that applies to the entire United States. It includes the Equal Pay Act and also ensures overtime pay, a minimum wage, and child labor protection.
The TVPA Reauthorization of 2008 created the crime of fraud in foreign labor contracting. The statute that addresses this crime states that, “Whoever knowingly and with intent to defraud recruits, solicits or hires a person outside the United States for purposes of employment in the United States by means of materially false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises regarding that employment shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.”
Federal Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Tourism Laws
The Mann Act of 1910 makes it a felony to knowingly transport “an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, with intent that such individual engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense.”
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (also known as the Crime Bill) includes a provision known as the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Act that combats child sex tourism by making it illegal to travel outside of the United States with the intent of engaging in sexual activity with a minor. The Sex Tourism Prohibition Improvement Act of 2002 was passed to remove the intent requirement and criminalize the actions of sex tour operators.
The Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act was passed in 2003 to help the government fight child sexual exploitation, expanding territorial jurisdiction to allow the prosecution of Americans traveling abroad who participate in the commercial sexual exploitation of children in other countries.
For additional information, visit the Resource Page for Chapter 1.4 Human Trafficking Laws.