DPS NEWS: Minnesota Implements Labor Trafficking Protocol for Law Enforcement

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Minnesota Department of Public Safety - Bureau of Criminal Apprehension news release


Jill Oliveira, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

Erin McHenry, Minnesota Department of Health

Madeline Lohman, The Advocates for Human Rights


July 21, 2022


Minnesota Implements Labor Trafficking Protocol for Law Enforcement

First-of-its-kind protocol developed to help law enforcement recognize and respond to labor trafficking crimes

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and The Advocates for Human Rights today announce the implementation of the Minnesota Labor Trafficking Protocol for Law Enforcement. The protocol includes specific investigative practices for patrol personnel, investigators and law enforcement administrators including evidence collection, initial response and situation-specific trafficking indicators.

Labor trafficking is exploiting someone for financial gain by compelling them to work or provide services against their will. It can be hard to recognize, is significantly under-reported and, until now, no comprehensive law enforcement protocol existed for how to recognize and respond to this type of crime.

“There are many unique indicators of labor trafficking crimes and victims,” said Drew Evans, BCA superintendent. “Helping law enforcement better understand, identify and respond to these crimes will improve investigations and help put an end to labor trafficking in Minnesota communities.”

A large group of stakeholders including criminal justice, health, non-governmental agencies and victim service providers worked together to develop what is believed to be the first comprehensive labor trafficking protocol for law enforcement in the nation.

“Labor trafficking and exploitation takes place in many settings across the state but it often goes unrecognized,” said Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “By taking a collaborative public health approach, and incorporating input from survivors, these protocols can help support law enforcement in their efforts to identify and investigate labor trafficking using a trauma-informed approach.”

Protocol authors gathered information from victim survivors about how a person becomes a victim and why they may not immediately report the crime. According to 2020 data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, labor trafficking most often occurs at the hands of someone the victim knows.

  • 69% were recruited by a potential or current employer.
  • 15% were recruited into trafficking by a member of their own family.
  • 5% by an intimate partner or marriage proposition.

“Labor trafficking is a serious human rights abuse that causes lasting harm to individuals, while undermining our standards for safe workplaces and fair pay,” said Madeline Lohman, The Advocates for Human Rights senior researcher. “The Advocates is proud to help secure safety and justice for survivors by ensuring law enforcement can effectively identify and respond to this crime.”

BCA predatory crimes agents will begin training law enforcement across Minnesota in September 2022. Tips about suspected labor trafficking can be provided to BCA at 651-793-7000 or bca.tips@state.mn.us.

The protocols were developed using a federal grant received by the Minnesota Department of Health from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime. The BCA, MDH and The Advocates for Human Rights developed this protocol in partnership with many other organizations:

  • Anoka County Sheriff’s Office
  • Breaking Free
  • Face to Face Health and Counseling
  • Hennepin County Attorney’s Office
  • Hennepin County Child and Family Services
  • Hennepin Healthcare
  • Leech Lake Tribal Police Dept.
  • Minnesota Attorney General’s Office
  • Minnesota Department of Commerce
  • Minnesota Department of Human Services
  • Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
  • Southwest Crisis Center
  • Standpoint
  • The Enitan Story
  • United States Attorney’s Office
  • University of Minnesota School of Nursing
  • Washington County Attorney’s Office
  • Survivors and other stakeholder groups and advisory staff

Read more quotes from project participants.

Additional Facts about Labor Trafficking

The National Human Trafficking Hotline received 1,386 reports of labor trafficking or trafficking that involved both labor and sex in 2020. These reports involved 4,214 victims. Worldwide, experts believe there are more situations of labor trafficking than sex trafficking, but there is much wider awareness of sex trafficking in the U.S. than of labor trafficking.

The most common types of labor trafficking:

  1. Domestic work
  2. Agriculture
  3. Construction
  4. Illegal activities
  5. Traveling sales crew

The top risk factors for labor trafficking are:

  1. Recent migration/relocation
  2. Self-reported economic hardship
  3. Unstable housing
  4. Criminal record/criminal history
  5. Substance abuse concern

MDH provides additional resources and information about reporting on labor trafficking in its Human Trafficking and Exploitation Guide.

 Additional information

Polaris Project Human Trafficking Trends in 2020

National Human Trafficking Hotline Data Report, 1/1/2020-12/31/2020