Understanding the Role of Transportation in Human Trafficking in California

Human trafficking, a form of modern slavery, is the recruitment, transport, and/or transfer of persons using force, fraud, or coercion to exploit them for acts of labor or sex. According to the International Labor Organization, human trafficking is the fastest growing organized crime with approximately $150 billion in annual profits and 40.3 million individuals trapped in slave-like conditions. While it is not compulsory to involve transportation for human trafficking, the transportation industry plays a critical role in combating human trafficking as traffickers often rely on the transportation system to recruit, move, or transfer victims. This multi-method study investigates the role of transportation in combatting human trafficking in California by conducting a survey followed up with semi-structured in-depth interviews with key stakeholders. The expert input is supplemented with labor violations and transit accessibility analysis. Experts emphasize the importance of education, training, and awareness efforts combined with partnership, data, and analysis. Screening transportation industry personnel for human trafficking is another step that the industry can take to combat this issue. Particularly, sharing perpetrator information and transportation related trends among transportation modalities and local groups could help all anti-trafficking practitioners. In addition, the transportation industry can support the victims and survivors in their exit attempts and post/exit life. Examples of this support include serving as a safe haven, and providing transportation to essential services. Transportation should ensure that all of these efforts are survivor-centric, inclusive for all types of trafficking, and tailored to the needs of the modality, population, and location.

Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
San José State University
Principal Investigator: 
Kezban Yagci Sokat
PI Contact Information: 

San José State University
210 N. 4th St., 4th Floor
San José, CA 95112

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization): 

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology – $6,554.72

Total Project Cost: 
Agency ID or Contract Number: 
November 2022
Project Number: 



Contact Us

SJSU Research Foundation   210 N. 4th Street, 4th Floor, San Jose, CA 95112    Phone: 408-924-7560   Email: mineta-institute@sjsu.edu