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Series / Human Trafficking

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Human Trafficking is a Lifetime miniseries released in 2005. It stars Mira Sorvino, Donald Sutherland and Robert Carlyle. Sorvino stars as Kate Morozov, an NYPD agent who is soon hired by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Bill Meehan (Sutherland) and eventually goes undercover to infiltrate the seedy underworld of Human Trafficking and to stop the efforts of a brutal European crime boss named Sergei Karpovich (Carlyle).


This series has the following tropes:

  • Big Sister Instinct: Helena has this towards Nadia when they were captive together, which is why the latter takes what happens extra hard.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For everyone; Helena is dead and the women and girls have been through a nightmarish experience, but at least Helena's Aunt and daughter are safe, Annie is reunited with her parents, Nadia is back with her father, Ludmila has her passport returned to her and the other kidnapped women and children under Sergei's contract are freed.
  • Boom, Headshot!:
    • Helena dies this way after stepping out onto the balcony of a house.
    • Tommy also dies this way while on the phone since he was eventually identified by authorities.
  • Break the Cutie: All the the women and young girls go through hell during their captivity.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Nadia first arrives in New York, meets Helena and is unaware of what the "modeling" was really supposed to be, the latter tells her what's in store. She initially does not believe her, even calling her crazy.
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  • Cool Big Sis: Kate is this to her kid brother, Misha.
  • Cool Old Guy: Bill Meehan and Viktor Taganov.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Kate has this: as a child, her favorite Uncle raped her at a family reunion. She tried to tell her father, his brother, what he did, but he refused to believe her, calling her a "dirty little girl". The very next year, he did it again.
  • Darker and Edgier: From the usual fanfare of your average Lifetime Movie of the Week, so much that there are Content Warnings displayed before the beginning of the miniseries and on every half hour of every part.
  • The Dragon: Co-dragons Sophie and Andrei work for Sergei. Tommy himself is an arguable example as well.
  • Driven to Suicide: The fifteen-year-old girl at the beginning of the first part kills herself by jumping out of the window to escape her torment. Nadia also attempts this by overdose after learning of Helena's murder.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • One of the Johns in the Philippines blatantly refused to sleep with the children, saying how depressing it is to be with someone young enough to be his daughter and demanded a grown woman.
    • Once the pressure of more of the houses being busted gets too much thanks to Kate's efforts and Viktor's presence, Andrei suggests that Sergei gives up the whole operation. He in turns says that if they close down one house, he would open up three more in response.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's no excuse for the actions that transcribed, but we eventually learn that Sophie was trafficked herself by Sergei years earlier before he made her his dragon.
  • Greed: The driving factor behind Sergei's criminal empire: it makes him millions of dollars a year.
  • Hidden Wire: Kate wears one in the form of a butterfly hair clip, which is eventually (but accidentally) knocked off and she had a code phrase of "I feel sick" to signify that she needs backup.
  • Honey Trap: What ended up baiting Helena, Annie and Ludmila; the former was wined and dined by a "nice" guy who broke up a fight at her job, Annie was tricked by a boy who flirted with her who was working for child traffickers and the latter fell into the world while trying to find a husband through an online dating service.
  • Human Traffickers: The series is about the efforts to infiltrate and thwart a ring of these.
  • Hypocrite: One of the clients in the Philippines, Sergei's doctor, is a loving husband and father who wanted to sleep with young prostitutes on his trip. Even the cops who arrested him called him out on this, asking how he would feel if someone tried to do the same to his own daughters.
  • I'll Kill You!: Upon Annie reaching her mother and as Tommy interrupted her (and was unaware that she used his phone), Samantha began to threaten him, even telling him that she'll kill him. Unfortunately, her desperate screaming caught his attention to what she did and after he hung up, he punished the girl.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: After Nadia almost escapes, Sergei repeatedly stabs his henchman in the throat with a ballpoint pen for his failure, killing him.
  • Karma Houdini: As far as we know, Frédéric was never punished for selling out Helena or any of the other crimes that occurred in the film.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Even with the Darker and Edgier atmosphere of the film, Sergei's presence makes it even worse.
  • Mama Bear: Annie's mother, Samantha, is this in her pursuit of locating her daughter.
  • Missing Mom: Nadia's mother died some time before the events of the film took place.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: Of all of the missing women and girls, news of only Annie's abduction gets widespread attention. This is justified due to the fact that she was the only one who had a confirmed kidnapping, she was an American tourist when she was taken and her parents helped to publicize her dilemma. Nadia and Helena went off willingly (albeit unaware the true nature of what was to happen) and Yasmin was sold away by her father.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: How Sergei meets his end to Kate's chagrin, as she would have rather had him arrested.
  • Papa Wolf: Nadia's father, Viktor, is this to her, even going undercover as an enforcer to find her.
  • Parental Substitute: Meehan serves as this towards Kate, even alternating between scolding her and commending her when appropriate.
  • The Pen Is Mightier: Sergei kills his henchman, Bruno, with a pen after he fell asleep and almost let Nadia get away (to which Sophie herself had to stop her by tackling her). It happens in front of both her and Helena, although Sergei didn't know that either woman viewed the gruesome murder.
  • Say My Name: Poor Helena desperately cries out for Frédéric to save her after he sells her to the traffickers.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Sergei usually speaks in a soft and calm voice, almost never raising it except for when he's really angry.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: While talking with one of the interested men on the dating website, Kate screams out to her brother how much the guy doesn't like like their Uncle after he insisted. She then apologizes and he hugs and kisses her as she begins to cry.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Viktor while working undercover as one of the enforcers, vomits after viewing a video of Nadia being gang-raped. This even causes Andrei to order it to be shut off.
  • Would Hit a Girl / Would Hurt a Child:
    • One of many ways to keep the women and children in line. Tommy even punches the woman helping Samantha locate Annie in the face for intruding on his business.
    • Sergei also threatens to kill Helena's young daughter if she tells anyone else that he's letting her go.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Sergei brutally murders a henchman for almost letting Nadia escape.
    • He also has Tommy murdered due to his greed, getting one of the brothels shut down and for going rogue regarding trying to take the sex slaves elsewhere without permission.
    • His lawyer ends up being fired for being tricked by Kate into giving back the missing girls' passports, but surprisingly, he isn't killed (at least onscreen).
  • You Would Make a Great Model: What initially lured Nadia and her friend into the world: the guise of a modeling contest. Her friend is not chosen, but she is.

Example of: