Gangs and Modern-Day Slavery in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala: A Non-Traditional Model of Human Trafficking
Journal of Human Trafficking, 2020
38 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 3, 2020
Trafficking in persons, also known as human trafficking or modern-day slavery, is a criminal enterprise that affects virtually every country in the world. Although coercion and force are often employed, the traditional model of human trafficking commonly involves victims being duped with fraudulent offers of travel, study, and employment and moved across international borders to supply international market demands for sex, forced marriage, labor, domestic servitude, illegal adoptions, and human organs. In contrast, as opposed to using fraud to entice victims, gangs in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala rely primarily on coercion and force to establish and maintain control over them and are far more likely to exploit them within the gang’s immediate area of control in ways that reflect the desires and needs of the gang rather than transporting them across borders in response to international market demands.
In this paper, we provide an overview of gangs’ practices of coercing young males into criminal servitude and young females into ultra-violent, exploitative relationships and argue that such practices constitute a non-traditional model of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. We also argue that these practices demand a fundamental shift on the part of the governments of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and international partners to investigate and prosecute gang related cases of human trafficking and to protect victims.
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