It is important to realize that human trafficking operations often intersect or exist alongside legitimate businesses. As a result, certain industries may help to enable, support, or facilitate human trafficking. This "support structure" may include a wide range of individuals, organizations, businesses and corporations, and internet sites and practices.
The support structure for the trafficking industry includes both criminal and noncriminal businesses and practices that facilitate human trafficking. This support structure is essential to the trafficking networks, often providing advertising, transportation, financial services, and spaces in which they operate. Facilitators may also help hide human trafficking crimes from authorities and increase the risk or difficulty for a potential victim to reach out for help. Because facilitators are rarely, if ever, prosecuted, they frequently perceive a low sense of risk for their linkages to human trafficking operations.
Common facilitators on which traffickers frequently rely include:
- Hotels and Motels
- Labor brokers
- Taxi and other driving services
- Airlines, bus, and rail companies
-Online websites like Craigslist.com and Backpage.com
-Alternative Newspapers (and some mainstream newspapers)
- Banks and other financial services companies
In some cases, businesses are aware of their involvement in trafficking, and the profits they generate outweigh reservations they may have about their role. In other cases, businesses are unaware and find it difficult to know which of their customers are human traffickers.
While the presence of these facilitators is disturbing and important to highlight, it is also a reason for hope. Legitimate business are likely to be more receptive to joining the fight against human trafficking once the ways that traffickers operate are described to them. In this sense, the support structure can either play a role in facilitating trafficking, or it can fulfill an important function in making it more difficult for traffickers to operate. By isolating traffickers and increasingly denying them opportunities to work through legitimate businesses, trafficking operations will be more risky and more difficult to maintain.