UTSA Criminal Justice Dept Researching Roots of Human Trafficking

The UTSA Department of Criminal Justice are conducting research into human trafficking, and plans to turn over their findings to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide officials with more information needed to better combat the problem, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Michael Smith, who heads the department, says one thing is certain, and that's that human trafficking, both for sex and labor, is directly tied to illegal immigration.

"The victims will pay to gain illegal entry into the United States," he said.  "But once they are here, the traffickers then have leverage over them."

He says most Texans would be surprised at the level of human trafficking.  He says it would not be surprising to learn that one of the people who mows your yard or serves you lunch in a restaurant is essentially a slave, working for a trafficking gang who exploits their labor for their own profit.

Smith says sex trafficking often works out of some 'recognizable' fronts, like massage parlors.

One of the things he and his colleagues will try to learn is, whether the same multi-national organizations which smuggling humans and drugs into the U.S. are also behind human trafficking inside the country.

"To the extent to which human trafficking and other types of illicit trafficking, drugs guns, are related to each other, whether the same organizations are involved, and whether they are using the same pipelines."

Smith says his research also hopes to determine the country of origin of human trafficking victims. and what their eventual fate is.

"The majority of it is sex trafficking, but there is a not insignificant labor component as well," he said.

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