How to Investigate Human Trafficking Step by Step

How to Investigate Human Trafficking Step by Step
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-08-17
Unit 1Presentation Materials: How to Investigate Human Trafficking Step by Step
Unit 2Transcript: How to Investigate Human Trafficking Step by Step
Unit 3Workbook: How to Investigate Human Trafficking Step by Step
Unit 4Recording: How to Investigate Human Trafficking Step by Step

When combating human trafficking, it is critical to have a comprehensive understanding of investigative strategies and procedural nuances. This compilation of insights from law enforcement experts delves into the intricacies of trafficking investigations, ranging from operational and investigative considerations to leveraging financial investigations to get to the criminals.

Leading this discussion is Jeff Bolettieri, an investigator for Hope for Justice with four decades of experience in law enforcement serving the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force. Meanwhile, Bill Loucks is the North Carolina senior investigator for Hope For Justice. His background is in gang and narcotics investigation with the Metro Nashville Tennessee Police Department and as an instructor for the North Carolina Department of Justice-Justice Academy.

Points raised in this webinar include:

  • Human trafficking is defined under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
  • The importance of documenting and proving elements of force, coercion, or fraud in building a robust case.
  • The primary issues when conducting proactive investigations which looks at personnel allocation, non-law enforcement resources, communications equipment, electronic evidence, and allotting confidential funds.
  • Specific considerations for outcalls in terms of:
    • Experience of undercover agents and skills and requirements for other related personnel.
    • Factors to take into account for hotel selection and ensuring operations within go seamlessly.
    • Offering intervention instead of arrest through advocates to avoid re-victimization.
    • Workaround in case of victim non-cooperation.
  • Factors to take into account in incalls as it relates to:
    • The personnel must be present and the experience and knowledge required to be effective in a riskier situation.
    • Communications equipment and electronic evidence that must be accessible.
  • An overview into common massage parlor/sex trafficking investigations.
    • Zeroing in on a target and clues based on the characteristics of the location and the patrons.
    • What an experienced undercover must assess while in the building to determine whether a massage parlor is a sex trafficking operation.
  • The value of training in human trafficking is not just for law enforcement and associated professions but for the general public as well.
  • How reactive investigations arise and things to consider in such situations such as:
    • On-scene indicators of human trafficking.
    • Dealing with victims and witnesses and offering support – through medical professionals and advocates – and trauma-informed approach to victims who may not want to cooperate immediately.
    • Starting investigation by leveraging surveillance and HUMINT and coordinating with vice and/or human trafficking units.
    • Obtaining search warrants, subpoenas, court orders, preservation letters, and non-disclosure letters to access different types of evidence.
    • Documenting and photographing evidence and identifying victims to corroborate evidence.
    • The different types of evidence and investigative resources to leverage and subpoena for to build a strong human trafficking case.
  • Looking at money laundering operations that are typically associated with human trafficking.
    • The different money laundering techniques use and financial indicators to look out for.
    • The elements of money laundering and the different entities, statutes, and techniques that can be leveraged to prove money laundering.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • Difference in the investigative process for labor trafficking cases.
  • The role of crime analysts in investigations.
  • Modifications in the process if the trafficked person is a minor.
  • The reason why human trafficking victims return to their traffickers repeatedly before they’re able to fully leave.



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Resources and Handouts



Audience Comments

  • “This was GREAT! Topics on human trafficking and drug abuse are significant. Trafficking goes unrecognized so trainings are important.” — Yolonda
  • “Great perspective on how detailed an investigator must be in the investigation and protection of the victim. Many resources must be in place and ready to utilize. Excellent training.” — M
  • “This was in-depth. As a social worker, it was interesting to hear the criminal side. Thanks for all the hard work.” — Tina
  • “The different steps involved in organizing a Human Trafficking Investigation were very helpful. Just this small amount of information allows a good base on how to start the investigation.” — Sean
  • “What to look for when investigating a trafficking victim. Awesome training!” — Lauren
  • “This was the best training on HT I have ever seen/heard. My local HTRA team needs to get on board with this… It seems like our jurisdiction still treats human trafficking cases as we did 10 years ago when we were just learning about them.” — Kelly
  • “I found the webinar on Human Trafficking to be very interesting. Especially, pertaining to the number of staff you would need to start an investigation, the surveillance team, and financial investigation. I took as many pictures as I could. I was not aware that there’s so much detail involved pertaining to Human Trafficking. I want to thank you so much for the presentation. I will be looking forward to the next webinar on Human Trafficking.” — Yvonne
  • “The total webinar on Human trafficking opened my eyes to various things that I would pay more attention to while out in the street.” — Gregory
  • “The presenters did a fantastic job of making the presentation as concise as possible in the allotted time.” — Daniel




This webinar is part of the JCH Summer School Program. From June 1-August 31, 2023, attendees will receive a certificate of attendance via email about one hour after the conclusion of a webinar.

Want to join us for other Summer School webinars? Check out our Summer School Calendar and register today!



Additional Resources
9 months ago
After the Webinar: How to Investigate Human Trafficking Step by Step. Q&A with the Presenters
Webinar Presenters Bill Loucks and Jeff Bolettieri answered a number of your questions after their p […]
10 months ago
The Real Face of Human Trafficking: How to Identify Human Trafficking in the Field
US law enforcement faces challenges in identifying and recognizing human trafficking due to inadequa […]
5 years ago
Developing Your Labor Trafficking Threat Assessment
Issues in immigration arise due to instances of labor trafficking – a modern form of slavery where […]
5 years ago
Combating Labor Trafficking: An Interview with Colleen Owens
When you hear the phrase "human trafficking," what immediately comes to your mind? If you're like […]
5 years ago
Domestic Child Sex Trafficking and Children in Foster Care
According to studies from the State Policy Advocacy Center and the U.S. Department of Housing and Ur […]