Intelligence Led Investigations

Intelligence Led Investigations

The business of trafficking in human beings is one of the fastest-growing and highly profitable criminal enterprises in the world, generating an estimated $32 billion per year. Traffickers may be well-funded and highly organized or they may be loosely connected groups working together to traffic individuals.  Regardless of the level of organization and funding, their purpose is the exploiting of others. 

As enforcement activities increase, traffickers are forced to alter their methods and strategies to protect their interests.  Organizations on the front line battling human trafficking must remain vigilant and use advanced methods to identify victims and dismantle the trafficking networks.  For this reason, we take a proactive approach to stopping trafficking through intelligence-led investigations. 

The traditional method of investigation done by most anti-trafficking organizations in destination countriescountries to which victims are trafficked (as opposed to source countries—countries from which women and children are trafficked).  In a destination country (like India, for example), there is an obvious location target: the establishments where the exploitation occurs.  Anti-trafficking organizations have had considerable success recovering precious victims from these locationseither by identifying underage victims forced to engage in commercial sexual exploitation or majors (18+ years of age) coerced or held against their will and forced into commercial sex work. 

It is difficult to secure a conviction in those cases as the case hinges solely on the testimony of the victim.  There is also a concern that when one victim is removed, another will be trafficked to take the place of the recovered victim.  Many trafficking victims entered the destination country illegally and therefore, may be further victimized by a local justice systems that doesn’t recognize them as trafficking victims.  The repatriation process may take years while the victims remain in detention centers or are deported as criminals.   

Traditional methods of investigations conducted by NGO’s focus on identifying and recovering victims who have already been trafficked and are being exploited in destination countries.  Our strategy is to go “upstream” and disrupt the flow of victims from the source country using the proactive, intelligence-led strategy; seeking not only the intervention and recovery of victims in the process of being trafficked, but also to prevent and reduce trafficking by attacking the networks through targeted investigations and the conviction of traffickers.   Our strategy aims to dismantle the networks and bring to justice all those involved in the trafficking and exploitation of the victims.    


Traditional NGO Anti-Trafficking Investigations

Intelligence-Led Investigations

Normal Location

Destination countries

Source, transit, and destination countries

Primary Aim

Recovery of victims already trafficked and prosecution of traffickers

Prevention of women and children from being trafficked, intervention of women and children being trafficked, and prosecution of traffickers


Establishments where victims are being exploited

Identified networks, establishments, individuals, and network support structures

The first step in the Intelligence-led investigative model is to develop actionable and timely intelligence from which a specific target can been identified.  This intelligence is generated through our Intelligence Trafficking Data Center, which houses our database of over 9,000 entries from our border intercepts, investigations and other sources.  We are in the process of entering into data sharing agreements with other anti-trafficking organizations to increase the amount of data in our fusion center to provide a clearer picture of the trafficking situation and help identify more networks to target and dismantle, setting the victim free and bringing to justice the perpetrators.

Crucial Parts of Our Anti-Trafficking Strategy