Human Trafficking

​The Department of Justice defines human trafficking as:

  • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion.

  • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations.

Human trafficking can happen to anyone but some people are more vulnerable than others. Significant risk factors include recent migration or relocation, substance use, mental health concerns, involvement with the children welfare system and being a runaway or homeless youth. Often, traffickers identify and leverage their victims’ vulnerabilities in order to create dependency. 


Youth and teens can be more susceptible to becoming a victim of human trafficking, especially those who have recently immigrated, those who are displaced from their families or have significant issues in the home, and those who have a history of substance use.  Knowing not only the signs of human trafficking but some of the grooming techniques and ways to protect your children are vital to keeping our youth safe.


Below are some of the signs that someone could potentially be a trafficking victim:

Please note: It is unsafe to attempt to rescue a trafficking victim.  You have no way of knowing how the trafficker may react or retaliate against you or the victim.  If you believe you have identified someone who has escaped from or is currently being trafficked, please contact law enforcement immediately.

  • Is the person disoriented or confused, showing signs of mental or physical abuse?

  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?

  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?

  • Is the person often in the company of someone who seems to be in control of where they go or whom they talk to?

  • Does the person appear to have a much older boyfriend or "daddy" that seems to be a strange or uncomfortable relationship?

  • Does the person seem to be being watched or controlled?

  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?

  • Does the person lack personal possessions or appear to not have a stable living situation?

  • Does the person seem to be abused or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care, or other life necessities?

  • Can the person freely contact friends or family and have the means to do so?

  • Is the person allowed to socialize alone?

  • Is the person permitted to freely attend religious services?

The information above was collected from the Suffolk Sheriff's Anti-Trafficking Unit, the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the Polaris Project, and the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign.

There are several other indicators not listed that could imply someone is a victim of human trafficking, as well as being "groomed" to become a victim.  Below are additional resources you can print or look through for more information.

The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office has designated teams of officers in our Human Trafficking Unit tracking activity within our Correctional Facilities as well as in the community.  If you would like additional information or to speak with one of our officers, please fill out the request form below and someone will contact you. 

Contact Our Human Trafficking Unit

The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office is an Accredited Law Enforcement Agency


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