How To Spot A Sex Trafficker According To The DHS

How do you spot a sex trafficker? According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the signs of a sex trafficker in a hotel are almost exactly the same as the signs of anybody else in a hotel that’s ready for a good time:

  • garbage cans containing many used condoms
  • frequent use of “Do Not Disturb” sign on room door
  • excessive foot traffic in and out of a room
  • “excessive sex paraphernalia” in room
  • an “overly smelly room” that reeks of “cigarette, marijuana, sweat, bodily fluids, and musk”
  • a guest who “averts eyes or does not make eye contact”
  • individuals “dressed inappropriate for age” or with “lower quality clothing than companions”
  • guests with “suspicious tattoos”
  • the presence of multiple computers, cell phones, pagers, credit card swipes, or other technology
  • the presence of photography equipment
  • minibar in need of frequent restocking
  • guests with too many personal hygiene products, especially “lubrication, douches”
  • guests with too few personal possessions
  • rooms paid for with cash or a rechargeable credit card
  • “individuals loitering and soliciting male customers”
  • “claims of being an adult though appearance suggests adolescent features”
  • refusal of room cleaning services for multiple days

This list, with an except of a few token points thrown in to make it seem otherwise, appears to be aimed at prostitution instead of sex trafficking. Furthermore, it’s absurd to expect hotel staff to identify sex traffickers. To quote Bruce Schneier, “If you ask amateurs to act as front-line security personnel, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get amateur security.” There is no value in having hotel staff act as investigators. I would even say it has less than no value since the cost of chasing false positives, including money paid to investigators following up on leads and the complacency that comes from a continuous stream of false positives, will likely become detrimental to efforts of fighting sex trafficking.

Programs like this are exercises in security theater. By holding these training sessions the DHS can claim it is doing something to thwart sex trafficking without actually having to do anything.

2 thoughts on “How To Spot A Sex Trafficker According To The DHS”

  1. Didn’t you know that prostitution is never voluntary, it is *always* trafficking? Doesn’t matter what she says, she must be a victim.

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