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H.E.A.T. Watch – Stop Human Exploitation and Trafficking

Alameda County H.E.A.T. Watch Tip Line:
Office of the District Attorney, Alameda County
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

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How Human Trafficking Occurs

Victims of human trafficking are controlled through force, fraud, or coercion for the benefit of their trafficker who profits from their exploitation.

For labor trafficking, 'job brokers' offer false promises of well-paying jobs in big cities and/or foreign countries. When the victim arrives in their new country, they are forced to work for little to no wages to pay off a 'smuggling fee' debt. [1]

When a person is trafficked, the exploiter may take the victim’s documentation and threaten deportation if they report their exploitation. The trafficker often tells the victim lies about what will happen to them if they report to law enforcement, including that they can be jailed, abused, and/or raped by police, or that there is no evidence of maltreatment since they are not legal citizens.

In the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), we see victims of minor sex trafficking often coerced into slavery by 'romeo pimps' or boyfriends. These exploiters convince minors that they love them and manipulate that false love to sell the victims’ bodies for sex. Threats of violence keep victims under the control of the trafficker and in constant fear, preventing their escape.

Human Trafficking affects everyone

Vulnerable men, women and children are victims of this crime that offers traffickers high rewards and low risk. As a result, human trafficking is considered the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today. [2]

The reason for its rising prevalence is due to the illusive nature of the crime, the difficulty in prosecuting such cases, and the relatively light penalties for human trafficking.


  1. Human Trafficking—Exploitation of Illegal Aliens - Federation for American Immigration Reform
  2. Human Trafficking - State of California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General