Perception vs. Reality: The Relationship Between Organized Crime and Human Trafficking in Metropolitan Atlanta
Sociology and Criminal Justice
Since the enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, there has been an increase in both media and scholarly discussions of human trafficking. Although most of these discussions have framed human trafficking as a crime committed primarily by organized crime groups, there has been very little empirical research examining the link between human trafficking and organized crime. In an effort to start to address this gap in the research, we conduct an exploratory study to determine if there is a link between human trafficking and organized crime in one of the Southeast’s human trafficking hubs – Atlanta, Georgia. We collected data on 24 federal human trafficking cases that were indicted in metropolitan Atlanta between 2000 and 2013. Then, we conducted a content analysis of the court documents for each federal human trafficking case and classified the relationship between organized crime and human trafficking using one of three categories: nonexistent, organized criminal network, organized criminal syndicate. For the majority of the human trafficking cases (n = 16), we found that there was no relationship between organized crime and human trafficking. For the cases that did show a relationship between organized crime and human trafficking, we found evidence of organized criminal networks in eight of the cases and evidence of an organized criminal syndicate in only one case.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)