Human trafficking increased in 2016, organization reports

The National Human Trafficking Hotline found that 7,500 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2016 — up from 5,526 in the previous year, based on the group's data.

The hotline, which is run by the nonprofit organization Polaris, maintains a resource center for victims of trafficking and aggregates statistics based on incoming reports and phone calls. It also reported that California and Texas are again among the most egregious states for human trafficking.

California bore the lion's share with over 1,300 incidences of human trafficking last year, almost double any other state, the nonprofit reported.

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"As a diverse cultural center and popular destination for immigrants with multiple international borders, California is one of the largest sites of human trafficking in the United States," said the California Attorney General's office in a report on human trafficking.

Texas, another border state, followed behind at 670 cases and Florida came in third at 550 cases, according to the hotline.

All three states, which also topped the same list last year, experienced a rise in trafficking crimes from just one year prior, according to the report.

Ohio, New York, and Georgia followed.

"Left unchecked, human trafficking will continue to flourish in environments where traffickers can reap substantial monetary gains with relatively low risk of getting caught or losing profits," the National Human Trafficking Hotline said on its site.

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According to the group, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Alaska had the fewest cases of human trafficking were — each with less than 10 total cases.

A majority of victims were trafficked through the course of domestic work or within hotel- or motel-based employment, according to the report. Agricultural work was also identified as one of the top industries harboring human trafficking.

The hotline received thousands of calls in the past year, with 76 percent involving some sort of sex trade. More women than men were victims.

One incident highlighted by the National Human Trafficking Hotline in August last year involved a woman forced into commercial sex work by an abusive partner who "used physical violence, threats, and verbal and emotional abuse as a way to keep her in the situation."

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In another incident, the organization helped a laborer who was forced to work "extremely long days on a farm with no days off and no breaks." While living in his employer's house, he had "no access to a bathroom or clean running water." His employer frequently threatened him by "withholding his immigration documents.