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Human Trafficking Illicit Profits & Pricing Structures



ILO, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labor, 2014, https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---declaration/documents/publication/wcms_243391.pdf


Profits

Human trafficking generates large illegal profits which, combined with the perceived low risk of arrest and prosecution for traffickers and a seemingly endless supply of victims, help to fuel trafficking (Dank et al. 2014). The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated human trafficking globally generates $150.2 billion in illegal profits a year—$99 billion from sex trafficking and $51 billion from forced labor (ILO 2014). The report also estimated global annual profits generated per victim were $21,800 for sex trafficking, $4,800 for victims trafficked for construction, manufacturing, mining, and utilities, $2,500 for victims trafficked for agriculture, and $2,300 for victims trafficked for domestic work.

Pricing Structures

Estimates on pricing structures used by human traffickers vary based on the type of exploitation, victim characteristics (age, sex, race, or other unique selling points), locale, country, market segment, and more. Alina Donahue’s estimate of $436,800 per victim per year in her post on average human trafficker illicit profits is a conservative estimate based on a sampling of pricing structure estimates. In addition to the two examples from Kara 2009 cited in my comments to Alina’s post, other examples include:

  • Most research on domestic pimp-controlled sex trafficking suggests that victims do not get paid days off, and are forced to deliver a $1,000/day quota to their traffickers 365 days a year. However, victims are sometimes incarcerated or too injured/ill to fulfill that quota every day. Thus, in Dallas and McLennan County (encompasses Waco – between Dallas and Austin), TX, the victim estimated value is the $1,000/day quota minus a daily overhead cost of $300 times 260 days per year, resulting in a value of roughly $182,000 per year, which can be earned by anywhere from 1–10 commercial sex acts, 5 being the average (Avery Center 2021; Avery Center 2022)

  • Street and Internet-based pimps set daily quotas which typically vary by the race of the woman, with white women required to meet higher quotas than women of other races. Law enforcement stated that pimps generally set daily quotas of about $100 per day, and as high as $700 to $1,500 on the weekend (Dank et al. 2014)

  • Prices charged for adults and children advertised through escort services are higher than drug-addicted women working in prostitution on the street. Prices tend to average between $100 and $300 per hour, but can be much higher. One official reported that women and children exploited through escort services in Denver, CO have been required to service an average of five customers per day, but that it can be higher depending on the pimp (Dank et al. 2014)

Critical Shortfalls in Human Trafficking Strategies

Human trafficking and migrant smuggling affect every region of the world and are likely the most pervasive global criminal markets (INTERPOL 2022). According to the Global Initiative, human trafficking has become the most pervasive of all criminal markets in the world and features in the top five criminal markets of every continent in the world (Global Organized Crime Index – 2021). These data suggest our collective efforts to date - at local, national and international levels – have yet to effectively address human trafficking in its many forms.

Two approaches with the greatest potential to address human trafficking shortfalls include:

  • Reliable empirical prevalence estimates to accurately establish the scale and scope of human trafficking and enable governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to develop evidence-based responses, monitor progress with their implementation, and assess effectiveness.

  • Surveys of human trafficking resources (manpower and funding) and capabilities to enable resource-based risk management and promote stakeholder synergies.



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