As I planned, researched, and wrote Deep Cover Jack, it quickly became clear that we’d be dealing with some pretty heavy topics in this book. That’s often the case when writing thrillers, but this newest Hunt for Jack Reacher thriller, required research on human trafficking.
Human trafficking is defined in the Trafficking Protocol as:
“the recruitment, transport, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation.”
The crime doesn’t always involve transporting a victim very far. In fact, in most cases, the victim’s nationality is the same as the trafficker’s, and in most cases, the victim doesn’t leave the country at all.
But in many cases, the victim is transported across borders, and that really caught my attention. At the border — either at departure or arrival— would seem to be a logical spot for the crime to be halted in its tracks. So how do traffickers get their victims out of the U.S. and into another country?
Victims Forced Into Being Transported
There are a few different scenarios which involve the victim being transported unwillingly:
- Victim is drugged
- Victim, often on the fringes of society, has had her passport confiscated by her boss
- Victim is compliant because of a threat
Sometimes the victims are taken in simple, direct routes. Other times the routes are circuitous by air, land, or sea. It can take anywhere from days to years to complete a particular journey. Traffickers frequently use the same routes and methods as smugglers of drugs, weapons, and migrants.
The United States is popular both as a destination and as an origin of human trafficking.
Crossing the Border
If the victim is crossing an international border, the trafficker may have made one of several arrangements:
- Has fake identification documents for the victim
- Is in communication with organized crime groups for profit, which have influence at a border
- Bypassing official border control completely
There’s another kind of victim that I haven’t mentioned yet, which is the victim who willingly complies with being transported, usually because of a lie she’s been told. In Part 2, I’ll tell you about victims who are duped into becoming a part of the human trafficking industry, along with some real life survival stories.