Trafficking vs Smuggling: Understanding the Difference

One of the things that members of our Covenant Rescue Group are asked, both in work and in our outside lives, is this: What exactly is the difference between the terms “human trafficking” and “human smuggling”? Here, we provide an explanation of the key differences between the two.

Understanding Human Smuggling

Human smuggling is the act of importing people into the United States of America in ways that require immigration laws to be deliberately evaded. You’ll often hear the term “illegal aliens” when human smuggling is being debated or discussed. It also involves the harboring and transportation of such individuals who are already present within the US.

Understanding Human Trafficking

There are two main strands of human trafficking. Firstly, it involves sex trafficking for commercial gain, whether through force, fraud, or coercion. This includes individuals under the age of eighteen who are forced to perform such acts.

The second strand involves the recruitment, transportation, harboring, or provision of a person to provide services or labor by means of force, coercion, or fraud. The purpose of this is to lead the individual to be subjected to involuntary servitude, slavery, debt bond, or peonage. This latter term refers to those bound into servitude due to debt.


Appreciating the Key Difference Between These Terms

The term “smuggling” refers to the act of transportation; “trafficking” covers the exploitation of individuals. Of course, you’ll quickly appreciate that the former can quickly lead to the latter. This is often the intention of those involved in these horrifying crimes.

Signs of Such Activities in Action

Of course, the aim of those involved in these vile activities is to make money out of the desperation of others. Profit before people is a common phrase to describe the attitudes of those involved in this appalling trade in human misery.

There are many financial signals which can show that these illegal activities are taking place. The following are a couple that will offer a quick overview of how financial gain easily occurs. These can be recognized as a possible red flag to smuggling or trafficking activities:

  • Financial transactions where funds are moved to another country
  • The individual is often accompanied by a “helpful” third party, perhaps claiming to be an interpreter.
  • Frequent wire transfers to destination countries where human trafficking actions are known. Such transactions have no apparent, lawful purpose, e.g. genuine transfers to family members.
  • Individuals receiving incoming transfers from countries with a high migrant population when they are not themselves citizens of that country

Taking Action

Our team is part of a fight to protect victims from coming to harm in these illegal activities or to liberate those already tangled in their web of misery and tragedy.

As a nonprofit founded in 2019, we spend our time in real operations directing law enforcement strategically toward possible human smuggling or trafficking activities. Our volunteers are among the best of us: ex-service personnel such as Seals, Special Forces, SWAT, or US Marshals. They work tirelessly to provide training and resources.

We look out for, those in harm’s way. We appreciate how vulnerable they are, even once liberated from what is often simply hell. We step with them on a path towards healing, the restoration of both their life and dignity. We seek to deliver those causing such misery into the arms of proper justice.

If you’re as sickened as we are at the way the vulnerable are treated, your donations can help finance our Covenant Rescue Group operations and our volunteers’ work. Your advocacy could then help spread our message.