The crime of human trafficking, told through the eyes of victims.

These are survivor-informed lived experiences, composite narratives of real-life situations and events. Can you identify what makes Antonio’s experience human trafficking?


Came to America to pursue a promising opportunity.

An account of an organized labor trafficking ring in the restaurant industry.

I did everything right, everything legally. I got my work visa and a job through an online recruiter. I had worked in restaurants before, and I knew I could make good money in the States and send some back to my parents in Mexico to help support my little brother and sister.

I was driven with 14 others from Mexico into Texas and then to Colorado. I live in employee housing with several others and we’re taken back and forth to work. We’re always watched.

I’ve been here for months and haven’t been paid—none of us have. When I asked about pay they said I owed for housing. Traffickers often create an illusion of debt in order to never have to pay the employee for their labor. This is an invented system called “debt bondage”.

Then, I was threatened. They made it clear that they could hurt my family in Mexico.Traffickers threaten victims as a way of coercion to keep them in their trafficked situation.

Now, I’m forced to work in different restaurants, in different cities. I don’t even know where I am. I am not allowed to talk to anyone.Isolation is a tactic traffickers use to keep victims cut off from resources so they can’t get help. I wash dishes in the back and have no contact with anyone who could help and I don’t know who is safe to talk to anyway.

My family back home must be worried about me. I haven’t been able to call them or send any money. I am ashamed that I can’t help themPeople experiencing human trafficking often feel shame about being in their situation and blame themselves, making it more difficult for them to find a way out of the trafficked situation., and that I am the one who needs help. I am even more of a burden to them now, and they were depending on me.

My visa is expired now and I’m afraid I will be deported.Now, Antonio is totally controlled by the trafficker, he can’t work anywhere else. If he’s deported, he will lose the opportunity to have a good paying job to help his family. I don’t want to be sent home. I feel like I failed my family. All I want is a decent job to be able to help them.