Human trafficking in Arizona; How to Keep You and Your Family Safe

Nov. 7, 2023

The department of justice has identified Phoenix as one of the top human trafficking jurisdictions in the country. Human traffickers often prey on vulnerable groups such as children in the child welfare or juvenile justice system; runaway and homeless youth; unaccompanied children; undocumented individuals in the United States; people of color; American Indians, and other indigenous peoples of North America; LGBTQIA+ individuals; migrant laborers; persons with disabilities; and individuals with substance use disorders. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) crisis has gained increasing attention in recent years in both Canada and the United States, including in Arizona. Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people face disproportionate rates of violence and homicide compared to non-Indigenous individuals in the state. The crisis has brought to light the longstanding issue of systemic racism and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in Arizona, as well as the need for greater support and resources for Indigenous communities. The Arizona Victim Compensation Program offers financial assistance to victims of crime or others who may have experienced a financial loss as a direct result of a crime. To apply for this program click here

Traffickers recruit victims via social media, and in-person places such as shopping malls, bus stops, parks, libraries, shelters, juvenile detention centers, and parties. Grooming for sexual exploitation is a common tactic and can be categorized by traffickers targeting vulnerable victims, gaining information and trust, maintaining isolation, and abusing and controlling the victim. More information from the U.S. Department of Justice January 2022 National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking can be found here

Tips on Prevention:
  • Maintaining open communication. Ask questions about internet usage and who they are talking to online. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the people in your child’s life. 
  • Talk to your children about healthy and unhealthy relationships.
  • Keep the computer in a common area where you can monitor your child’s internet usage
  • Take your children’s concerns seriously if they report an uncomfortable or suspicious online exchange
  • More information about keeping your family safe online can be found on the U.S. Department of Justice Website

The Find My app is an application which is automatically installed on iPhones and can be utilized for free to share your location with members of your family sharing group. Additionally, there are periodical free self-defense course offered throughout the state of Arizona and can be accessed through your local law enforcement websites. An example of this is the Rape Aggression Defense System (RAD) course offered by the Mesa Police Department and teaches participants the basics of hands-on defense training. More information on this free course can be found here 

The following are useful Arizona specific resources:
  1. Southern Arizona Anti-Trafficking Unified Response Network (SAATURN) Resources including TMM Family Services, Youth in Their Own, and others around the state of Arizona can be found here 
  2. Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network here offers online training videos and resources
  3. The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be accessed here for information on reporting a tip
  4. Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to BeFree 233733