Join the fight against human trafficking in Minnesota​

​​​​Jan. 22, 2024​​

A person washes dishes in a restaurant Labor trafficking is one of the most common types of human trafficking in Minnesota.
​​Picture this: Your teenage child comes to you one evening. They're worried because their friend has been missing a lot of school lately, and they just found out the friend is being forced to work for a friend of the family instead — for no pay.

Is the friend being trafficked for their labor? Do you know how to report it if they were?

Throughout January – Human Trafficking Awareness Month – our Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is working to make sure Minnesotans know the warning signs and how to report suspected human trafficking.

Human trafficking can take many forms, including both forced labor and sex trafficking.

Exact trafficking numbers are challenging because you can have a single victim and a single trafficker associated with hundreds of buyers; experts say the incidents we're aware of may be just the tip of the iceberg. In 2023, the number of tips received by our Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force about possible human trafficking incidents rose 38 percent over 2022.

The fight against human trafficking is one we can win, but only if we all work together. The Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force is led by the BCA and includes investigators and analysts from St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments, Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, Woodbury Public Safety Department, Homeland Security Investigations and the Ramsey County Attorney's Office.

The legislature and governor during last year's session provided dedicated state funding to support our efforts to curb trafficking in Minnesota. The dedicated funding covers a portion of the current task force staff and operating costs that had been reliant on grant funding. This is a big help in our ongoing work across Minnesota.

You can help stop trafficking by knowing the warning signs and risk factors. Trafficking situations can be difficult to recognize because it is most often a combination of indicators, but warning signs include:

  • Withdrawn, afraid to talk, communication is censored.
  • Not attending school on a regular basis.
  • Working for no or little pay.
  • Identification documents held by another person.
  • Physical injuries.
  • Unexplained new clothing, money, jewelry.
  • Branding (tattoos of a crown, the word “daddy," etc.).
  • Explicitly sexual social media profile image.
  • Involved in a relationship with an older man or woman.
  • History of running away or homelessness.
  • Little/no eye contact.
  • Inconsistent story.
  • Drug addiction.

No single sign can definitively identify human trafficking. The most important thing to look for is a pattern of control by a trafficker over one or more people. Report incidents of labor trafficking to law enforcement. The BCA worked with labor trafficking victims and advocates to develop guidelines to help law enforcement agencies conduct labor trafficking investigations. Remember, it's better to report suspected trafficking and be wrong than to ignore it and be right.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of being trafficked, call 911. To report a suspected trafficking situation, call the BCA at 877-996-6222 or email bca.tips@state.mn.us.

Survivors of human trafficking can find support through Safe Harbor Minnesota and the Day One Crisis Line at 866-223-1111.​