Human trafficking involves recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring, or acquiring individuals by force or deceit to manipulate them for gain. Adults and children of various ages and ethnicities can become targets of this abuse, which happens worldwide. Many human traffickers resort to brutality or fake recruitment agencies and misleading learning and career prospects pledges to trap their victims. Communication difficulties, fear of their smugglers, and fear of police agencies usually prevent victims from getting assistance, transforming trafficking into a covert crime (Dandurand, 2017). Human traffickers target vulnerable individuals due to several factors, including mental or emotional distress, economic difficulty, natural calamities, and civil unrest. For example, in the documentary Trafficked in America, teenagers from impoverished Guatemalan families were shipped to work on an egg farm in Ohio, America (Trafficked in America, 2018). The hardship endured by the victims makes human trafficking a serious social problem that requires crucial intervention and stringent laws and rules governing immigration policies.
The documentary Trafficked in America exposed human trafficking, particularly of teenagers between 13 and 18. It is the main social issue covered in the film. Aroldo Castillo made bold pledges to families in their Guatemalan society that their children would get excellent schools and improved lifestyles in the United States (Trafficked in America, 2018). Instead of that, he sent the children and young adults he enticed to Marion state, Ohio, to work on poultry farms and live in appalling conditions. Guatemalan families arranged to pay Castillo up to $15,000 to bring their kids to the US, attend good schools and work in well-paying positions to help repay the loan (Trafficked in America, 2018). Instead, Castillo transported the victims with the assistance of his co-conspirators, forced them to reside in a secluded trailer park, and threatened them with corporal punishment to coerce them into working on the chicken farms.
Poverty is a major concern that affects most counties worldwide. According to the World Bank, roughly 700 million individuals lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2015 (Sanderson et al., 2018). While it is a significant achievement, it still reflects that far too many individuals continue to live in despair. Poverty is among numerous components contributing to a person’s susceptibility to human trafficking. Victims of human smuggling may come from various origins, including financially wealthy families. Conversely, trafficking is intrinsically related to persons lacking resources, most notably employment possibilities (Bettio et al., 2017). Living in abject despair is a cruel reality that many individuals cannot escape. Many grow frustrated enough to engage in false job ventures or be misled into sex trafficking. Human traffickers prey on individuals with limited economic possibilities and struggle to satisfy basic demands.
The teens who were victims of human trafficking came from the Western highlands of Guatemala. The surrounding community in Guatemala lived under poor conditions with no job opportunities. Guatemala’s poor living standard is manifested in its inadequate judicial system, which contributes to the smuggling of several underprivileged people (Trafficked in America, 2018). Due to poor living standards, families were compelled to send their younger population to the United States in search of job opportunities, which would enable them to overcome their misfortunes.
While physical assault is a means of establishing authority over another individual, human smugglers employ discreet techniques that allow them to effectively maintain power over their victims. The victims are alienated by the traffickers, who make them feel as though they have nowhere to turn. (De Haas, 2021). Individuals without legitimate credentials are sometimes threatened with deportation if they do not comply with the trafficker’s demands and may expect a confrontation with legal authorities as a result.
How Human Trafficking Was Maintained in Guatemala
Teens were trafficked from Guatemala to Marion County, Ohio, in a covert manner due to various causes. Most teenagers forced to work in chicken farms were enslaved by enormous debts, which required them to labor long hours and days to help pay them off (Trafficked in America, 2018). In addition, the traffickers snatched their families’ title deeds to their ancestral properties and threatened to seize their lands if they did not work (Trafficked in America, 2018). As a result, the traffickers made it nearly impossible for the workers to escape or leave the chicken farm. Additionally, they threatened to murder their families if they refused to work or take a wage cut. Several organizations, such as the Health and Human Services (HHS), played a significant role in maintaining human trafficking from Guatemala to the US. However, the HHS was overwhelmed, and therefore they could not investigate all the sponsors who came to pick the teenagers.
How Human Trafficking Was Revealed, Pursued, and Addressed
The human trafficking of Guatemalan teenagers was discovered after one of the chicken farm teenagers contacted his uncle in Florida. He described their ordeal at the hands of the smugglers to his uncle and appealed for his intervention. His uncle agreed to speak with the authorities and ultimately contacted the county’s sheriff. Two months later, federal and local law enforcement searched the trailers where the teenagers were staying. They discovered at least ten victims of human trafficking, eight of whom were minors. In addition, authorities apprehended approximately 90 illegal employees at the egg farms. Jack DeCoster, the proprietor of a chicken farm, also pled guilty to recruiting illegal immigrants.
What Could Have Been Done Differently to Address the Trafficking in Guatemala?
The Health and Human Services (HHS) placed the immigrants to their relatives or adult sponsor instead of relaxing the vetting process. Even after claiming to have reinforced processes concerning human trafficking, it was essential to investigate and interrogate the HHS. Additionally, the Federal government was supposed to check the criminal background of the sponsors before handing some of the victims into the hands of the abusers. The journalists were also supposed to write articles earlier once they discovered the horrendous living conditions that encircled the teens working in the chicken farms.
Causes of Human Trafficking in Guatemala
Numerous factors played a role in the successful trafficking of Guatemalan teenagers to the United States. Several individuals who had accomplices in Ohio who sponsored the teens were instrumental in recruiting these teens to work on chicken farms. For example, the two brothers Pablo and Ezekiel Duran, who owned the Trillium farms, ensured they had leased the eggs after the DeCoster’s eggs became unmarketable (Trafficked in America, 2018). Additionally, the federal government was complicit in widespread trafficking. They had ceased fingerprinting the majority of sponsors who approached the teenagers for sponsorship. They ceased supervising the sponsor’s birth certificate copies a few months later. Additionally, the federal government stopped the sponsors’ FBI criminal background checks. Such inattention benefited smugglers, and thus the practice of employing illegal workers became widespread.
How Ordinary People Can Help Stop Human Trafficking
There are many ways that ordinary individuals can help to stop human trafficking. Principally, they must learn to recognize and respond to human trafficking incidences. Human traffickers lure or kidnap their victims from everyday settings without ordinary people noticing. In other words, people need to be vigilant of the telltale signs indicative of potential human trafficking syndicates (Altun et al., 2017). For example, they were raising the alarm against a prospective employer who declines to provide completed contracts to employees or requires them to sign contracts in a language they cannot understand. Similarly, warning individuals against a prospective employer who charges a prospective employee the chance to work in a certain position.
Ordinary people can also offer support for vulnerable people who are likely to be victims of human trafficking. Ideally, this would encompass adopting orphaned children, removing children from active employment and taking them to school, or reporting employees exploiting children and violating their rights. In addition, vulnerable adults can be offered job opportunities in conducive work settings (Altun et al., 2017). Likewise, domestic violence or sexual abuse victims can be offered counseling and social support services as their unstable emotional state makes them prime targets of human traffickers. Above all, ordinary people should participate in community awareness initiatives to combat and stop human trafficking.
Human trafficking is only one of a number of major societal problems that need an immediate response. Every day, grave human rights abuses occur around the globe. Managing human trafficking’s problem prominence is a hurdle. Perhaps a crisis of this scope and intensity can only be contained, which requires ongoing activity by many players and adequate information to comprehend it as a firmly ingrained and complicated crisis. Attaining this aim may require awareness of the many complicated problems in the discussion around human trafficking.
Altun, S., Abas, M., Zimmerman, C., Howard, L. M., & Oram, S. (2017). Mental health and human trafficking: responding to survivors’ needs. BJPsych International, 14(1), 21-23. Web.
Bettio, F., Della Giusta, M., & Di Tommaso, M. L. (2017). Sex work and trafficking: Moving beyond dichotomies. Feminist Economics, 23(3), 1-22. Web.
Dandurand, Y. (2017). Human trafficking and police governance. Police Practice and Research, 18(3), 322-336. Web.
De Haas, H. (2021). A theory of migration: The aspirations-capabilities framework. Comparative Migration Studies, 9(1), 1-35. Web.
Trafficked in America. (2018). FRONTLINE. Web.
Sanderson, E. W., Walston, J., & Robinson, J. G. (2018). From bottleneck to breakthrough: Urbanization and the future of biodiversity conservation. BioScience, 68(6), 412. Web.