The second of the three popularized policy responses to human trafficking under the traditional security paradigm is overemphasizing its connection to organized crime and targeting these criminal networks as a means to curtail human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a very lucrative criminal venture. In 2012, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that human trafficking generates $150 billion (USD) annually in illegal profits, $99 billion (USD) of which are from commercial sex exploitation and remaining $51 billion (USD) from forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture and other economic activities. Human trafficking is among the top three most profitable criminal enterprises along with trafficking drugs and arms. It is also the fastest growing criminal enterprise because of the ever-growing demand and ability to resell a person. There is no doubt in any anti-trafficking professional’s mind that human trafficking is an organized crime problem. However, it is first and foremost a human rights violation.
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Targeting Human Trafficking Organized Criminal Networks
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Human trafficking was officially established as an organized crime by the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNCTOC) in 2000 defining an organized criminal group as:
a structured group of three or more persons, existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes … in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit.