Sex Trafficking in America by the Numbers

If there is one thing, we know about sex trafficking in America it is that we have no idea the magnitude of the problem. While research on this crime has come a long way it is nearly impossible to fully understand the scope of this horrific abuse.  The numbers below are all based on measurable data and good research, and while they give us a general idea of the state of things there is no way feasible way to measure all those affected by this crime.

As you read these statistics, please remember that these numbers represent more than just numbers. They are people’s daughters and sons. They represent women and children whose lives have been reduced to a product on a shelf to be taken advantage of. They represent abuse and lives that will never be the same.

They also represent how difficult this crime is to identify and then how difficult it is to prosecute and convict.


Human Trafficking Globally

An estimated 27.6 million people are forced into labor or sex trafficking globally [1].

115,324 human trafficking victims were identified across the globe in 2022 [1].

This means that governments are identifying less than half of 1% of victims being affected by trafficking. Meaning there are millions of people that exist that have no control over the work they are forced to do or who touches their bodies.


Sex Trafficking

90,984 of the victims identified in 2022 were victims of sex trafficking. [1]

Of those cases 12,489 were prosecuted and 5,049 ended in convictions [1]. Yes, this is over 5,000 traffickers being stopped across the globe, however, remember this is only half of 1% of the problem in its entirety. This is the tiniest drop in the bucket.

Of the sex trafficking cases prosecuted in 2022, 178 of those were prosecuted by the federal government in the United States [2].


Victims of Sex Trafficking

341 days was the average amount of time a victim represented in one of these federal cases spent being exploited by their trafficker before being identified and offered a path to freedom [2].

6% of these victims were known foreign nationals [2].

Of the online platforms used to recruit victims Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram remain the top 3 platforms used [2].

Victims recruited by someone they already knew remained the most prevalent manner of recruitment. Victims were recruited by a mutual friend of the trafficker, a person they shared an intimate relationship with, school staff, employer, family member or other pre-existing relationship [2].

15% of victims experienced both physical and non-physical means of coercion. This combination remains the most consistent form of coercion used [2].


Children Victims of Sex Trafficking

34% of the federal cases prosecuted in 2022 had a victim that was a minor [2].

4% of these children were males [2].

24% of these victims experienced rape, sexual violence, or another form of physical abuse as a means of coercion [2].


Stopping Sex Trafficking

The majority of cases that were federally prosecuted in 2022 were results of a reactive investigation. Meaning that law enforcement was notified that a crime was suspected, and this triggered the investigation.


Ways YOU can Help

The numbers show globally we are failing at identifying victims of trafficking and without identifying them, law enforcement cannot take action. Guardian Group exists to solve this problem in the United States. Through our internal Analysis Team and the Project 1591® volunteer force we identify potential victims of trafficking to law enforcement across the nation.

This approach allows for a proactive approach to stopping this crime, providing a free resource law enforcement can use to get a leg up on the traffickers.

  • Help Identify Victims – If you have any level of Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) skills join Project 1591 as a volunteer. Use your expertise to help identify victims and increase the half of 1%.


  • Fund Victim Identifications – Team 1591 is a group of individuals that are committed to helping increase victim identifications but maybe do not have the right skill set or time to do it themselves. Instead, this group provides the necessary funding (less than $200 per year per person) to increase our victim identification ability.




[1] U.S. Department of State. (2023, September 15). 2023 trafficking in persons report – united states department of state. U.S. Department of State.

[2] Lane, et al., 2022 Federal Human Trafficking Report, Human Trafficking Institute (2023)