“This year’s Report provides in-depth trend analyses and important context on 20 years’ worth of enforcement data that practitioners and the public alike can review to assess how far we’ve come in using the justice system to combat trafficking, and how far we still have to go.” Lindsey Roberson, Director of Legal Engagement and 2020 Report EditorThe 2020 Report highlights data and trends spanning two decades of anti-trafficking enforcement in the United States in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The Report is the first source to compile data from all criminal cases from each year since the TVPA was enacted. Throughout the Report, you will find a series of blue feature boxes entitled “20 Year Trends,” which provide a snapshot of how human trafficking schemes and prosecutions have evolved since 2000.
“The 2020 Federal Human Trafficking Report provides policymakers, researchers, journalists, and nonprofit leaders with an essential tool to analyze the U.S. enforcement of anti-trafficking laws. One government leader described it as the most reliable cross-section of human trafficking data within the United States. The 2020 Report fills a major gap in data collection to support trafficking prosecutions by presenting prosecution trends since 2000. Our goal is to continue to fill the gaps in these efforts and provide a vision for this type of data collection in other countries.” Victor Boutros, Chief Executive OfficerKey Takeaways from 2020:
- In 2020, there were 579 active human trafficking prosecutions involving 1,007 active defendants and impacting over 1,499 victims. 94% of these were sex trafficking cases and 6% were forced labor cases.
- Prosecutors filed more human trafficking cases in 2020 than in 2019, but charged fewer defendants. The number of cases filed in 2020 increased 11% to 165 following two years of decline. In contrast, the number of defendants charged dropped to 257, down 8% from 2019.
- The internet is a major platform for traffickers to recruit sex trafficking victims and solicit buyers of commercial sex. In 2020, 83% of active sex trafficking cases involved the internet as the primary method of solicitation and 41% of victims in active sex trafficking cases were recruited online.
- Self-reporting by a victim was the most common way that a case was reported to law enforcement in 2020. Over one-third of case referrals that resulted in a prosecution involved a victim who contacted law enforcement for assistance, either directly or through the support of a non-profit or hotline.
- Federal courts convicted the lowest number of defendants in human trafficking cases in 2020 since 2012. In 2020, 163 defendants were convicted—an 89% conviction rate. This is a 51% decline in convicted defendants from 2019.
- 2020 saw the highest average sentence imposed in human trafficking cases since the enactment of the TVPA. On average, federal courts sentenced defendants convicted in human trafficking cases to 13 years in prison.
- Federal courts ordered 50% of convicted defendants to pay mandatory restitution in 2020, doubling the percentage of defendants ordered to pay mandatory restitution in 2017.