“Perceptions of Arizona Human Trafficking Victims: Best Practices for Identification, Care, and Re-integration”

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“Perceptions of Arizona Human Trafficking Victims: Best Practices for Identification, Care, and Re-integration”

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The United Nations (2018) defines human trafficking as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose including forced labor or sexual exploitation.” However, this is underreported and separate from smuggling crimes; however human smuggling can quickly devolve into trafficking for children and women who are undocumented immigrants who can be held in “drop houses” for ransom at the end of their treacherous journey (Simmons, Menjívar, Téllez 552, 2015). Simmons et al. (2015) report that while illegal immigration from Mexico, Central, and South America is not a new phenomenon, kidnapping and sexual violence along the border seems to be a new phenomenon. A chain reaction of criminal enterprises which seems to be only escalating. With the nature of the victim’s immigration status, these crimes are of opportunity and severely under-reported. While trafficking is a global problem, the lawless nature of this issue in Arizona and “sanctuary policies” that lead to Arizona as a haven have yet to be studied thoroughly. While Illegal immigration is a crime, it will not be the focus of the research. An understanding of the victim, their care needs and best practices for re-integration for the victim’s needs to be studied.

Transnational criminal organizations, cartels, and Drug trafficking organizational networks in the United States pose a series threat to national security. An understanding of victimology can help trace the lines of the criminal organizations and stem the tides at the root of the problem before the men, women, and children are found and become victims. The one place where trafficking victims are found accidentally in the emergency department, where they can easily slip through the cracks. It is suggested that Law Enforcement conducting raids should cooperate with nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and other government agencies to identify possible victims, who are mentally and physically isolated and some have been found that to have had contact with healthcare professionals (Sousou Coppola, Cantwel, 2016). A cooperative NGO, Healthcare, Law Enforcement (Federal, Local and Tribal), and Social services approach will be required to profile and address Arizona’s human trafficking issue.

Arizona has a unique border, with Tohono O’odham (TO) Nation with its members living in two countries US and Mexico which creates reporting, treatment, and rehabilitation (Reveals, Cummings 227, 2014). An in-depth look at the TO Nation’s holistic approach to addressing crime and the impact on trafficking on and off the nation. The TO Nations plays an integral part of immigration politics and human trafficking in Arizona and yet is an overlooked element when considering human trafficking victims who can be TO Nation members, and members who participate in trafficking. Arizona provides a unique environment of study. However, it has yet to be comprehensively studied. The presence of a Federal Indian Tribe, Federal and Local Law Enforcement, Sanctuary Policies, and multiple healthcare and social service entities all provide a ripe atmosphere for research.


Human Trafficking. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/human-trafficking/pages/welcome.aspx#note1 

Revels, A., & Cummings, J. (2014). The Impact of Drug Trafficking on American Indian Reservations with International Boundaries. American Indian Quarterly, 38(3), 287. doi:10.5250/amerindiquar.38.3.0287 

Simmons, W. P., Menjívar, C., & Téllez, M. (2015). Violence and Vulnerability of Female Migrants in Drop Houses in Arizona. Violence Against Women, 21(5), 551-570. doi:10.1177/1077801215573331


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