Iowa Attorney General

Fighting Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery, and is a felony under Iowa law. Oftentimes, victims pay to be illegally transported into the United States only to find themselves in the servitude of traffickers.  Traffickers force many victims into prostitution, involuntary labor and other forms of enslavement to repay debts, which are often “entry fees” into the U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world, generating about $32 billion each year.

Many human trafficking victims are children.  According to a study of U.S. Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens.  The average age that U.S. citizens are first used for commercial sex is 12–14.

In cases involving domestic child human trafficking, criminals use force, threats and coercion to control their victims’ behavior.  In cases where foreign children are transported into the U.S., they find themselves surrounded by an unfamiliar culture and language without identification documents, fearing for their lives and the lives of their families.

If You See Something, Say Something: How to report suspected human trafficking

Human trafficking can happen anywhere at any time and look different each time.  The fact is it's unlikely you will be able to actually recognize a victim just by their appearance.  So, if you see something that doesn't "look right," report it immediately to both of these:

  • Call your local law enforcement agency by dialing 911 and reporting what you see
  • For victim services in Iowa, contact the Iowa Helpline at 1-800-770-1650 or text "IOWAHELP" to 20121
  • Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, toll-free, at 1-888-373-7888 (to report a tip or request services)
  • For services for victims, click here to see regional service maps and contact information for programs

Your calls will help law enforcement respond and investigate, and there is no consequence for being mistaken.  The trafficker is hoping you won't call; the victim's only hope is that you will.

To contact CVAD's Human Trafficking Coordinator, click Celine.Villongco@iowa.gov or call 1-800-373-5044.

To view a printable card that's available from the Crime Victim Assistance Division, click here.  To order the card, email Rebecca Crawford or Becky Bell.

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