EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — January is Human Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month and the FBI wants El Pasoans to beware of illegal human exploitation. 

Britton Boyd, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI El Paso’s Criminal Branch, says 664 human trafficking cases were opened last year that resulted in 473 arrests. 

“Here in El Paso, we do see quite a few human trafficking investigations and the majority are related to prostitution,” Boyd said on Wednesday. 

The FBI takes human trafficking very seriously, says Boyd, and investigates crimes under three categories:

  • Sexual trafficking
  • Labor trafficking
  • Domestic servitude 

A common misconception is that human trafficking victims are abducted, but Boyd says that most cases today involve high-level lying. 

“A lot of people are tricked into a life of forced labor and slavery, either by the promises of a high-paying job or a job that is other than what they find themselves in,” he said.

The FBI says that the most effective way to investigate human trafficking is through collaborative efforts that include federal, state, local and tribal agencies and partners. Multi-agency partnerships include:

  • The FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces
  • The Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team Initiative 
  • The Enhanced Collaborative Model Human Trafficking Program 

Like all things, the pandemic has affected human trafficking, but Boyd said cases in El Paso have remained steady.

“One case is too many cases,” he said. “It’s a problem, given the severe nature of the crime and the human rights violations as a result of that.”

If you or someone you know have information on human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.

If you believe a child is being trafficked, submit a tip through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline or call 1-800-THE-LOST.