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Human Traffickers

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Rick Blaine: I don't buy or sell human beings.
Senor Ferrari: Too bad. That's Casablanca's leading commodity. With refugees alone we can make a fortune if you work with me through the black market.

Criminals whose primary trade is the illegal transportation of live human beings; ranging from the smuggling of undocumented migrants across national borders, to selling people into forced labor and servitude (especially involuntary prostitution).

They tend to be sprawling, international organizations with seemingly infinite resources. Their resources are not used for their victims, who are typically kept in filthy cages until sold to the highest bidder, who is typically an immensely wealthy businessman.

Real-world sex-traffickers don't snatch "nice" upper-middle-class women and children off the street, which is too difficult and risky. Rather, they usually target homeless, undocumented, poor people whose disappearances will attract much less attention, using seduction and/or blackmail to initially trick them into bad situations. Very often, women who fall prey to this were entirely aware that they were being recruited for sex work, but expected to be treated with a modicum of decency.


Very common trade of Ruthless Foreign Gangsters; since The Great Politics Messup, The Mafiya and other Eastern European gangsters have a particular association with the trade. To a lesser extent, The Cartel will also dabble in this illicit business. Due to Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil and Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil, human traffickers are near-universally considered to be over the Moral Event Horizon. See Superhuman Trafficking for a more fantastic variant. Contrast Underground Railroad, which is when people, persecuted or otherwise, are smuggled to safety, rather than being smuggled as cargo.

Unfortunately Truth in Television (although how much so is disputed, especially in regards with prostitution; for instance, controversial migrations scholar Laura Agustín disputes that so much prostitution is sex trafficking, other scholars say that prostitution is sex trafficking, and let's leave it at that).



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    Comic Books 
  • The Punisher MAX:
    • The Punisher goes after a trafficking ring in "The Slavers". Their treatment of their victims sets off every one of Frank's Berserk Buttons regarding the mistreatment of women and children in general, and his defeat of them is considered one of the most violent parts of the entire MAX run.
    • "The Naked Kill" is another Punisher arc where the villains own a maximum-security apartment and use it to make Snuff Films (the Big Bad's nephew has a Gag Penis with which he rips the women apart), importing women from all over the world to keep up their numbers. Frank disguises himself as a janitor and makes his way through the floors in a master-class demonstration on using an Improvised Weapon, but the murder of the star is left to the victims after Frank kneecaps him.
  • In Red Hood: The Lost Days Jason Todd discovers that his German mentor Egon is trafficking children. He responds by killing everyone involved in the operation, utilizing some of the deadly skills taught to him by Egon and the other mentors Talia found for him as well as his former training in less lethal methods under Batman.
  • The Sandman: Hob Gadling was involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade for several years during its heyday. On boasting about his success to Dream, he was told to knock it off (and he still feels guilty for it a few centuries later).
  • Sin City: The Colonel, one of the Wallenquist Mob's lieutenants, was responsible for managing a huge human trafficking network that was later dismantled by One-Man Army Retired Badass Wallace in the events of "Hell and Back".
    • Part of Dwight McCarthy's backstory in "A Dame to Kill For" involved taking down a ring of these, which left the girls of Old Town in his debt. The term Dwight used for them, "white slavers", is an old-school and very discredited term for this type of criminal.
  • Superboy (1994): Kossak the Slaver abducts a number of humans for his intergalactic slave trading operation.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Hypnota uses her mental control powers to make the people she abducts placid and ensure they won't fight back before selling them, and has been selling large quantities of people to Saturnian slavers.
    • In the Huntress feature Helena Wayne uncovers the operations of Herbert Hynde who buys babies and young children from the desperate poor and in debt and sells them to rich families.

    Fan Works 
  • The LDD-fanfic Bridge to Terabithia 2: The Last Time retcons Leslie Burke's alleged demise to a Never Found the Body situation, where as it turns out, she was actually abducted by an enemy of the Burke family, who's implied to be stalking the Burkes the whole time. Said enemy turns out to be Jason Burke, the half-brother and nemesis of William Burke due to a past love triangle gone wrong, who decides to abduct William's only child, Leslie, and then fake her death and intends to have Leslie sold off to a human trafficking syndicate in a misguided attempt to spite his brother. Needless to say, of the many new characters introduced in the story, Jason Burke is the most despised of all, by the story's characters and readers alike.
  • At the start of Lost Storms: Stormy's Forgotten Past, six year old Stormy is kidnapped by traffickers while out with her mother. Stormy is especially sought after because she comes from an influential family with the ability to cause storms. Stormy ends up sold to Murky, where he raises her to defeat Rainbow Brite for him.
  • The Ark from With Pearl and Ruby Glowing run a sex ring with connections all over the world. Many of their past victims turn up in the Palace.
  • The Love, Simon, The Hate U Give, and Love, Victor crossover Fanfic "Twelve Months" reveals This is what happened to Simon after his disappearance. He's smuggled into Bulgaria and forced to work at a brothel for the majority of the story.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Afflicted: Maggie refuses to leave her house, so for money she forces her son to do odd jobs and pimps out one of her daughters.
  • The first antagonists of Black Butler are a group of traffickers Shiori got herself captured by to figure out their connection to a string of murders. They're shown to handle their victims in an incredibly degrading way even by human trafficking standards. As it turns out, this is because their primary client is experimenting on the girls to discover immortality.
  • Black Cougar: This is the main villains' motivations for kidnapping neighbourhood kids.
  • Crazed: The main antagonists, the Luna Cartel, have sex trafficking as one of their primary revenue sources, the other being Organ Theft.
  • Eastern Promises: The Vory y Zakone syndicate has been importing Russian girls into the west to be forced into prostitution. The plot is kicked off when a pregnant 14-year old girl runs away and dies in childbirth after she was raped by the chapter's boss.
  • 1941 short film Forbidden Passage focuses on a gang that smuggles foreigners into the United States in the cargo hold of ships. The only problem is, if the captain of the ship thinks he's going to be caught, he drowns his passengers in the ocean to avoid detection, a real life tactic often used by traffickers.
  • In Goldstone, the mining company is flying in indentured sex workers to work at a brothel located just off the mine's property, allowing plausible deniability. Mrs Lao handles this side of the business, allowing Johnny to keep his hands clean.
  • The villains of the second I Spit on Your Grave movie are vicious sex traffickers who kidnap and brutalize a young woman named Kate, who goes over-the-top when she takes her revenge on them.
  • Journey of Hope is about a Turkish family attempting to enter Switzerland illegally for work. They deal with a series of increasingly shady, dishonest smugglers, with the worst being the ones at the end who abandon them in the Alps along the Swiss/Italian border.
  • Killer Angels: The main villains of the movie are a human trafficking ring, complete with cages containing young women hidden in the basement of their Big Fancy House hideout.
  • Lilya 4-ever is an extremely grim Scandinavian drama about a teenage girl from the former Soviet Union who is trafficked into Sweden and forced into prostitution by a man who she thought loved her.
  • The Mongolian Connection: What Serik is up to in Texas, smuggling in Mongolian women to work as prostitutes. It's a huge problem in Ulaanbaatar, with news reports of gangs snatching women off the street.
  • The antagonists in Rambo: Last Blood are a gang of traffickers who kidnap women and force them into sexual slavery in an unnamed Mexican seaport. They come into conflict with Rambo when they take a young woman he helped raise.
  • In 68 Kill, Liza is revealed to have been doing this on scale: selling women to her brother Dwayne, who kills them, rapes them and dissects them (yes, ...In That Order). It is not made clear where she sources the women, but she does mention that the last one was a crack whore. This is her plan for disposing of Violet: rather than just killing her, selling her to Dwayne will have the same outcome and make her some money in the process.
  • Skin Trade: The main antagonists are an international trafficking ring that killed The Hero's family. The film was specifically made by Dolph Lundgren to raise awareness on the issue.
  • Skin Traffik: The villains are all involved in selling women's bodies for profit. One of the major baddies, Sergei is more directly involved in forcing the women into slavery.
  • Spectre: During the SPECTRE meeting, it's mentioned that one of the Nebulous Evil Organization's many sources of revenue is human trafficking, including child prostitution. This is one of the reasons why Mr. White, a former member, defected and went into hiding, since he was appalled by the levels of evil that Oberhauser sank to.
    • Mr. White's actions here are interesting considering that he made his introduction in Casino Royale (2006) brokering a deal between Le Chiffre and Obanno, the latter of whom uses Child Soldiers. In that scene, Mr. White does seem mildly uneasy as he watches one of the children serving Obanno, foreshadowing his later defection.
  • The Taken series is about an American man who gets into a lengthy feud with a gang of Eastern European sex traffickers, initially after they kidnap his daughter while she's on holiday in Paris. As shown in the first film, however, the Albanians are just the lower rung of a much larger organization that includes corrupt French and Swiss officials as well as an Arab Oil Sheikh.
  • The Transporter has Jason Statham as Frank Martin, who battles an Asian trafficker who is kidnapping people and bringing them to France to become slaves. And one of the trafficker's victims is his own daughter, who Martin breaks his personal rules in order to help.
  • Virgins of the Seven Seas: The villains are pirates working for a ruthless brothel owner, who kidnapped the five titular virgins intending to sell them off to wealthy clients.

  • In the Modesty Blaise series, this was one of the lines Modesty refused to cross during her criminal career, and she and her organisation would sometimes go out of their way to put a spoke in the wheel of rival organisations that did take part in the trade. In the prologue of The Night of Morningstar, she and her team take down a crime boss who specialises in trafficking underage girls.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, slavery is very common outside of the Seven Kingdoms, to the point that human trafficking is the main industry of the city-states of Astapor (which specializes in Child Soldiers), Yunkai (which specializes in sex slaves) and Mereen (which specializes in domestic slaves).
  • In She's Not There, Caroline becomes convinced that this has happened to her missing daughter. That she wasn't kidnapped and murdered, but was taken by someone and smuggled over the Mexican border, to eventually be sold off for adoption.
  • In Secrets Not Meant to be Kept, Martha Plunkett runs a reputable preschool that is actually a front for a toddler sex ring, where preschoolers have been molested and exploited for child pornography for nearly twenty years.
  • In Darkblade Assassin note , first book in the Hero of Darkness series note , the evil cult The Bloody Hand have human sex trafficking as its source of income.
  • Pinot Noir has a subplot involving a child-trafficking preacher, Kleetus Klementine, who has children kidnapped and caged to be later sold as pets.
  • In Death:
    • Origin in Death has an illegal cloning program which has for decades cloned people for willing buyers. These clones are used for everything from prostitutes, soldiers, spies or even disposable cannon fodder.
    • Born In Death has a group who take in mothers and sell their babies to rich customers.
  • RWBY: After the Fall has the protagonists finding out the two Huntsmen that seem to be around every incident are traffickers who capture powerful people for an unknown party.
  • RWBY: Before the Dawn reveals that not only are there more human traffickers than the first two from the last book but that the humtsmen are working for an organization called The Crown led by a pair od twins named Jax and Gillian Asturias who have the goal to destroy Shade Academy and restore what was once a monarchy in Vacuo's past.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charlie's Angels: Several episodes, including a large part of the cringeworthy criminal enterprise the Angels take down in Season 5's "Angel in Hiding" (a "modeling agency" used as a front to sell failed models — i.e., those who refuse to give into sexual harassment — into, among other things, human trafficking and prostitution).
  • CSI Verse:
    • The "CSI Trilogy" revolved around an organized nation-wide ring of human traffickers. The story began in Miami when Langston was invited to come take a look at some evidence that linked to a case of his from Vegas, then moved on to NYC, before concluding back in Sin City.
    • Earlier CSI: NY's "She's Not There" involved a Russian man who was killed while searching for his missing daughter who, as it turns out, had been lured into a sex-trafficking ring after being promised a modeling career in the US.
  • One of the main plots of the third season of Engrenages pits Laure and her police team against a vicious Albanian pimping gang who force Eastern European immigrant women into sex-slavery and knowingly hand them over to a local Serial Killer when they get too rebellious.
  • In a Space Opera variant, the Farscape episode "Scratch 'n' Sniff" involves sex trafficking on a corrupt mob-run Pleasure Planet.
  • Human Trafficking is a Lifetime miniseries about the FBI going after an international human trafficking ring.
  • In Star Trek, this is one of the crimes of the Orion Syndicate, as demonstrated in Star Trek: Enterprise when they kidnap nine Starfleeters to sell them into slavery (fortunately, all nine are rescued). The Orion even sell their own women into sexual slavery; though this is mitigated (for a very loose definition of the term) by the fact that the women seem to enjoy being enslaved — and because of their pheromones, it's actually their masters who are held in thrall.
  • Trapped: In one subplot of the first season of this Nordic Noir series, the Captain and the purported Chief Engineer (actually just a gangster) of a ferry between Scandinavia and Iceland are involved in a conspiracy to smuggle African women into Iceland for prostitution.
  • Vera: While investigating a murder in "The Sea Glass", discovers that the Victim of the Week was involved with a human trafficking ring. The skipper of trawler would smuggle in illegal immigrants and drop them on a remote part of the coast, where the victim would pick them up in a van and deliver them to various locations. While Vera shuts the operation done, it turns out only to tangentially connected to why the man was murdered.
  • The Wire: The Greeks, an international crime syndicate which first appears in season 2, engages in sex trafficking among several other illegal activities such as the drug trade. They first come to the attention of the BPD when a group of Eastern European girls are left to suffocate in a crate in the Baltimore docks.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • The Russian syndicate that Wilson Fisk has an alliance with are trafficking in girls at the docks. Matt is introduced attacking them as a container of girls are being unloaded at the docks, then tells the terrified captives to run to the cops.
    • The Yakuza, actually a front for the Hand, are also doing this, with one subplot in season 1 being that Nobu and his people need Fisk to secure the docks as they bring in a Black Sky (which turns out to be a young boy).
  • Dexter: One of Dexter's victims was a businessman who was smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States in containers and murdering those who couldn't pay him. What was more surprising to Dexter is that the man's wife, whom he initially believed to be in the dark about her husband's crimes, was a co-conspirator in their trafficking ring.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: In the season three episode "Cuts Like A Knife" The killer in the episode, named "Cutthroat" traffic's young women in from Croatia and auctions the virgin girls to the highest bidder.
  • Big Sky: Ronald and Legarski sell the woman he kidnaps as sex slaves.
  • Doctor Who. In "Warrior's Gate", the Villain of the Week is a crew of humans trafficking in a race of aliens called Tharils. For Dramatic Irony, the Tharils themselves once kept slaves, including humans.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible: The city of Babylon in the Book of Revelation is judged because among her merchandise that the nations buy of is "the bodies and souls of men", implying that human trafficking is permitted by her. However, the Old Testament has Hebrews themselves permitted to buy Hebrew and foreign slaves (though there are limits on the former). Slavery was ubiquitous in the Middle East at the time of course.

  • Podcast His Night Begins has protagonist Virat Nariman go up against an Indian child-trafficking operation as the plot of its first two seasons.

    Video Games 
  • Watch_Dogs: Several story missions and side activities has Aiden fighting against these guys, including a mission where he storms one of their auctions, guns down half of the traffickers, and then calls the cops on the survivors. The Chicago South Club led by Dermot "Lucky" Quinn ran an international auction of selling kidnapped American and European women to the highest bidder.
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has the Dvali crime family, which deal in smuggling. One sidequest has Adam encounter a woman who seeks to use them to escape from Prague to avoid being sent to an aug ghetto.
  • Unsurprisingly for Grand Theft Auto games, given their nature of their criminal underworlds it should be expected to involve this:
    • Advance: One of the Yakuza missions involves the player kidnapping Mafia goons and bringing them to the docks, where they are sailed off to Asia as slave servants.
    • San Andreas has a mission where CJ storms a Yakuza slave ship, rescues the Vietnamese refugees, and killing the traffickers all by his lonesome.
    • IV: Niko Bellic, in the past, was a human smuggler for Ray Bulgarin's trafficking ring, until one incident which left Niko running for his life and Bulgarin very pissed.
  • Saints Row: The Third has a controversial mission where the player intercepts a Syndicate boat transporting sex slaves and rescues them... so that they can work for a local pimp and earn money for the Saints instead of their enemies.
  • Alice: Madness Returns: Dr. Angus Bumby and his Wonderland counterpart the Dollmaker use hypnosis to erase the memories of young girls and boys for the purpose of turning them into prostitutes and sex slaves.
  • Mafia III: The Southern Union deals in kidnapping black people off the streets and selling them to rich people through auction. Which Lincoln does not take kindly to at all. After he rescues the slaves, kills the slavers and takes over this operation, he makes it VERY clear to his underbosses that they will need to find another way to earn money than dealing in the slave trade.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has a particularly disturbing sidequest where the Courier is tasked with investigating some missing persons from a refugee camp just outside of Vegas. Their search leads them to a pair of slavers who have been snatching people from nearby settlements to sell to the Fiends for torture and other unsavory activities. They even keep a log detailing their recent transactions, including the fact that they even raped the slaves themselves until they realized it lowered their value. Popping these psychos is easily one of the most satisfying moments in the entire game.
  • The antagonists of Far Cry 3 are involved in this, among other things. The Establishing Character Moment of the Big Bad is him welcoming some recently-hired mercenaries into his organisation, where he details the rules about keeping "the product" in good condition: "You can fuck 'em, boys, but be gentle".
  • In The Council of Hanwell, the school headmaster has a chamber for displaying kidnapped children in the school basement. He is murdered by one of the kids who was transformed into an anomaly.
  • Cytus II has human trafficking as a major plot point. The perpetrators are the Mogura gang from Node 03. Nora's DLC chapter elaborates that not only do they force victims into prostitution, but they use babies for human experimentation. It's heavily implied that PAFF/Aroma White, one of the main characters, is actually a girl named Kaori who was kidnapped and transformed into Aroma via Magic Plastic Surgery and brainwashing.
  • Alluded to in Persona 5, when the team confronts Junya Kaneshiro's Shadow after he tries to blackmail them for 3 million yen:
    Shadow Kaneshiro: [to Makoto] Your sister is quite a beauty, though. I'll be sure to make her my personal slave. Once I get bored, I'll just sell her off...
    Makoto: My sister has nothing to do with this!
    Shadow Kaneshiro: Then you better start taking customers tomorrow. All you gotta do is endure it and do as you're told. You'll earn three million yen in no time.
  • In Marco and the Galaxy Dragon, large numbers of people were kidnapped by aliens ten years before the start of the game. Some of the victims, like Marco, were sold into slavery, while others were dismembered and sold as Human Resources. Astaroth was behind the kidnappings.
  • Tales of Crestoria: the Inciting Incident of the game is the reveal of a child trafficking ring ran by the protagonist Kanata's father where orphaned children are harvested for their organs and sex. Misella, Manata's childhood friend, was one of these orphans.

  • Danger Zone One has the criminal "Miss Bliss" from the "Fantasy Funland" two parter, who has just established an organ trafficking operation underneath the Fantasy Funland theme park where young women are kidnapped to be sold for their organs.
  • Girl Genius: Bangs pirate crew was involved in selling people, and had planned to sell Zeetha (without Bang's knowledge) before Zeetha recovered enough and killed all of them.
  • Your Throne: Lord Solon is a beloved war hero who runs an orphanage where orphans are cared for. In truth, this orphanage is a scam and the children are taken and sold to willing buyers.

    Western Animation 
  • DC Showcase: Catwoman features the title character going after a small-time diamond smuggler who has taken up human trafficking. In the end, it's revealed that they kidnapped Selina's teenage friend Holly Robinson.
  • In Season 3 of Young Justice, meta-human trafficking has become a global pandemic as every unscrupulous major player in the world considers meta-humans to be the next-gen superweapons. This is made worse because Lex Luthor has used his position as UN Secretary General to hamstring the Justice League's efforts to combat the trafficking. What makes this extra disturbing is that many of the meta-humans are young teenagers.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Human Trafficking


The Slave Merchant

The kingdom Naofumi finds himself trapped in practices human supremacy and BeastMan and Demihuman are offered as slaves to perform menial labor or serve as body guards. They are sealed with a curse that forces obedience. At the end of the episode, Naofumi comes across a shady merchant offering slaves for sale. While Naofumi initially rejects the offer, when the Slave Trader points out that slaves cannot lie or betray their masters, Naofumi chooses to listen and looks over the slaves.

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Main / HumanTraffickers