Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer McMahon-Howard

Second Advisor

Dr. Peter Fenton

Third Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Petersen


Since the enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which directly criminalized human trafficking, research on human trafficking has significantly increased. While recent studies have analyzed trafficking legislation, characteristics of offenders and victims, and types of human trafficking rings, little data has been collected on human trafficking ties to organized crime. Therefore, this research explores human trafficking and its relationship to organized crime through an analysis of public court records. Specifically, the study includes the 20 federal human trafficking cases in metropolitan Atlanta indicted between 2000 and 2012. It was found that 80% of the 20 human trafficking cases did not involve a tie to organized crime. Three cases involved rings that relied upon an organized crime group to provide services in furtherance of human trafficking. Only one case was operated by an organized crime syndicate. International cases were more likely to include organized crime relationships than domestic cases. Sex trafficking cases overwhelmingly demonstrated a more frequent tie to organized crime. Therefore, researchers should analyze sex and labor trafficking separately, and law enforcement should acknowledge the numerous forms that human trafficking may take.