Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking at the University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published by the Congressional Research Service, July 2006.


Trafficking in people for prostitution and forced labor is one of the most prolific areas of international criminal activity and is of significant concern to the United States and the international community. The overwhelming majority of those trafficked are women and children. According to the most recent Department of State estimates, between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across borders each year. If trafficking within countries is included in the total world figures, official U.S. estimates are that 2 to 4 million people are trafficked annually. However, there are even higher estimates, ranging from 4 to 27 million for total numbers of forced or bonded laborers. As many as 17,500 people are believed to be trafficked to the United States each year. Human trafficking is now considered a leading source of profits for organized crime, together with drugs and weapons, generating billions of dollars. Trafficking in persons affects virtually every country in the world. Traffickers exploit poverty, war, natural or man-made disasters, and ignorance.