Royal Canadian Mounted Police

How human trafficking works

On this page

  1. Recruiting tactics
  2. Control tactics
  3. Trafficker identities
  4. Locations of trafficking for sexual exploitation
  5. Locations of trafficking for forced labour
  6. More resources

Human trafficking continues to be a problem in Canada. Understanding what motivates traffickers and how to recognize the signs is crucial for preventing and reporting this issue.

Recruiting tactics

Human traffickers meet their victims in person, online, or through mutual connections.

Traffickers may use tactics on their victims, such as:

  • showering victims with affection and gifts (like jewelry, designer clothing and designer bags)
  • promising an exciting lifestyle and money
  • offering work, education, or financial support for their families

They approach potential victims in various ways, including:

  • pretending to be a love interest, friend, or sponsor
  • advertising jobs and opportunities in newspapers or online
  • resorting to threats or kidnapping
  • connecting through social media platforms

Control tactics

To deceive victims, traffickers often make promises of a better life or a relationship. However, once they have gained control, traffickers:

  • undermine victims' self-confidence
  • resort to violence (physical and emotional abuse)
  • use extortion

They isolate and manipulate victims, by taking control of their:

  • money
  • identification documents (such as passports)
  • work locations
  • living arrangements
  • relationships

Trafficker identities

Human traffickers can come from different backgrounds. They may pretend to be potential boyfriends or friends to approach their victims. Traffickers can be:

  • transnational organized crime groups
  • smaller criminal groups specializing in trafficking victims
  • small family criminal groups controlling the entire operation
  • individuals working independently for profit or personal gain

In Canada, most individuals accused of human trafficking are males between 18 and 34 years old.

Locations of trafficking for sexual exploitation

Victims of sexual exploitation can be found anywhere in Canada. Examples of locations include:

  • hotels and motels
  • nightclubs or bars
  • escort services
  • massage parlors
  • private residences
  • short-term vacation/accommodation rentals
  • online platforms

Locations of trafficking for forced labour

Victims of forced labor crimes can be found in various parts of Canada. Examples of locations include:

  • non-unionized industries
  • restaurants
  • hotels or the hospitality industry
  • commercial agriculture sites
  • construction sites
  • private residences

More resources

If you want to learn more about human trafficking, you can refer to the following resources:

Domestic human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Canada

This report focuses on domestic cases of human trafficking for sexual exploitation from 2007 to 2013. It provides insight into:

  • the nature and extent of domestic human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Canada
  • characteristics of victims and traffickers
  • how traffickers recruit and operate

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the 2014 report, you can send an email to

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