Follow TV Tropes

Following

Human Traffickers
aka: Human Trafficking

Go To

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.

Advertisement:

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. 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.


Advertisement:

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.

    Film 
  • 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.
  • Crazed: The main antagonists, the Luna Cartel, have sex trafficking as one of their primary revenue sources, the other being Organ Theft.
  • 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 officials.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 1941 short film Forbidden Passage focuses on a gang that smuggles illegals 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.
  • The Transporter has Jason Statham foiling an Asian trafficker bringing illegal immigrants to France to work.
  • 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.
  • 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, and dissects them (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 some money.
  • 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.
Advertisement:

    Literature 
  • 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 toddler sex ring, where preschoolers have been molested an 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.

    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).
  • 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 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 BCPD 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, was a co-conspirator in their trafficking ring.

    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 being permitted by her.

    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.
  • 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.
  • Unsuprisingly 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.
  • 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 well 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'll find another way to earn money instead of dealing in 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.
    • He gets away with it, too, if you don't complete his Palace in time.

    Western Animation 
  • DC Showcase: Catwoman has 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.

Alternative Title(s): Human Trafficking

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report