Human Trafficking

Young girl caught in sex-trafficking

Human Trafficking is Modern Day Slavery

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery in which people profit from exploiting others through force, fraud, coercion or deception. The U.S. government has identified human trafficking as the fastest growing criminal industry globally, tied with illegal arms trade at second, with the drug trade in first place.
In 2000 the United States made human trafficking a federal crime with the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Nebraska also passed a law in 2006 that made human trafficking illegal, although there are many limitations in the law that make it hard to enforce and prosecute traffickers. This issue matters because of the injustice it causes to those who become victims of this monstrous crime.

If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888 or visit for more information and resources.

Human Trafficking in Nebraska?

December 2008: Leonard Russell was convicted in Iowa of harboring, transporting and coercing two Nebraska girls ages 15 and 16 to perform commercial sex acts including performances at strip clubs. They ran away from a group home in Fremont and he picked them up and told them they had to earn money by “getting dates” in exchange for the food, shelter, transportation and clothing he provided them with. The 15 year old was eventually recovered by police in Washington, D.C. (Fox News)

April 2010: Richard Costanzo, president of an escort company called Dream Girls Inc., was arrested for running a prostitution ring in NE & Iowa. He had underage girls working for him. He advertised his girls on several different escort websites claiming “Our girls are available 24 hours a day, and can be at your doorstep within one hour to accommodate any situation.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation)

February 2011: Mary Crane Horton (32) and Nate Horton (35) were sentenced to 17.5 and 14.5 years in prison in February for human trafficking 6 women. They coerced a 15-year-old girl to perform commercial sex acts. The 15-year-old met another prostitute who worked for them through friends at high school. They used violence & threats on girls to keep them in line. (Federal Bureau of Investigation)

January 2013: Michelle Randall (35) of Upland, Nebraska was sentenced to up to 90 years in prison for felony conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault of a child and felony possession of child pornography. Randall was arrested after meeting with an undercover officer she believed to be a customer willing to pay $150 to $200 to have sex with her and a 14-year old girl. The ensuing investigation revealed Randall had pornographic pictures of 14- and 7-year-old children on her cell phone and had arranged numerous sexual acts with the two children in several counties. (Kearney Hub Article)

September 2015: The Lincoln Police Department accepted an invitation from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois to take part in a sex-trafficking sting along with 17 other states. In all, 1032 people were arrested. 16 men were arrested in Lincoln. (Lincoln Journal Star)

January 2016: A Lincoln man and woman have been charged with human trafficking in Hall Country (Grand Island). Maruiece L. Johnson and Katie M. Brandt have been accused of enging in sex-trafficking of a woman between December 11-16 in three states, according to court documents. (Lincoln Journal Star)

What is Sex Trafficking?

Sex trafficking is a specific category of human trafficking in which people are sexually exploited by means of force, fraud or coercion. By law, sex trafficking includes commercial sexual exploitation of children, meaning that anyone under the age of 18 who is working in the sex industry is a trafficking victim even if there is no force or coercion present. This is important since the average age of entrance into the commercial sex industry in the U.S. is between 12-14 years old.

Sex-trafficking can occur in: residential brothels, street prostitution, escort services (usually online), strip clubs, or brothels disguised as legitimate businesses (i.e. massage parlors, spas, etc.).

Victims of sex-trafficking can include: U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, adults, minors, and men or women.

Domestic victims are usually recruited through false promises of love and support, and sometimes through kidnapping or abduction. Foreign nationals are often-times recruited through false promises of legitimate employment, marriage or other opportunities.

If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888 or visit for more information and resources.

Human Trafficking By the Numbers

Want to know a little more about human trafficking? Here are some numbers on this global problem. Want to learn more? Check out our resources page.

12-14 = the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States. – University of Pennsylvania-School of Social Work

50% = percentage of transnational human trafficking victims who are children. –Trafficking In Persons Report 2007

80% = percentage of transnational human trafficking victims who are female. Trafficking In Persons Report 2007

$90 = average price of a slave today. By comparison, the average price of a slave in the American South in 1850 is $40,000 in today’s money. –

5,808 vs. 3,160 = number of prosecutions vs. convictions of human trafficking throughout the world in 2006. This means that for every 800 people trafficked, only 1 person was convicted -U.S. State Department

17,500 = estimated number of foreign nationals trafficked into the United States to be used in the sex trade or as domestic/agricultural slaves every year. –U.S. Department of Justice

244,000 = estimated number of American children at serious risk for sexual exploitation according to a study funded by the Dept. of Justice in 2000. –University of Pennsylvania-School of Social Work

1 million = number of children exploited by commercial sex every year around the world. –U.S. Dept. of State, The Facts About Child Sex Tourism: 2005

12.3-27 million = estimated number of people kept in forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, and sexual servitude at any given time in our world today. –United Nations’ International Labor Organization;

$31.6 billion = estimated annual profits made from the exploitation of trafficked forced labor. –International Labor Office

Why Does Human Trafficking Exist?

Human trafficking is highly profitable business driven by the demand for cheap/free labor and the demand forc ommercial sex. The International Labor Organization estimates the annual profit from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labor is at $31.6 billion.

There are two main reasons why the market for human trafficking is expanding:

Low criminal risk/deterrence — traffickers perceive little risk to affect their criminal operations largely because of the lack of strong penalties for their crimes, low chance of arrest, limited training of government agencies, and the lack of public awareness.

High Profits — humans can be sold multiple times a day, seven days a week for several years, while drugs and weapons can only be sold once.

Like any business, legal or illegal, the demand drives the supply. Human traffickers victimize vulnerable people out of their desires to profit from the demand. The number of vulnerable humans around the world and in the U.S. also makes it easy for traffickers to keep a fresh supply of victims for both labor and sex trafficking.

Human Trafficking Resources

Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking


Free the Slaves

Love 146: End Child Sex Slavery

Mercy Movement

Not For Sale: Re-Abolish Slavery

Polaris Project: For a World Without Slavery

U.S. DOS – Trafficking in Persons

U.S. HHS – Look Beneath The Surface

If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888 or visit for more information and resources.

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