BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business worldwide; preying upon children and exploiting the vulnerable.
As attendees at Friday's human trafficking conference learned, there is no common profile of criminals involved in the crime.
"All different. All different motives, different backgrounds, different stories. And so, again, we can't lock ourselves into expecting traffickers to look a certain way," said Elizabeth Scaife of Shared Hope International.
It's certainly not just stereotypical pimps plying the sex trade. Human trafficking can even involve families; including mothers with drug addictions, prostituting their daughters.
"Here they are selling their two, teenage daughters. They would set up dates on their phone, the guys would come and pick up the girls, pay the money, take them off, bring them back," said Scaife.
The words exploitation and coercion come up frequently in any discussion about sex trafficking.
"So the recruitment strategy, it's very simple. They find a youth, they target somebody. They can see some of who they are just by looking at them and understand enough about their life, that that child has vulnerabilities that I can exploit," Scaife added.
Once the hooks are in, it's a form of brainwashing that allows pimps to take control.
"And then when you get to the point where you feel she can't live without you, you stop the sweet talking. You say, 'Alright. Now you're gonna do this, and you're gonna do this, and gonna do this.' And she'll do it because she loves you," said Scaife.
Those familiar with human trafficking say it's not just in big cities or other countries. Often, it takes place not far from home.
"Labor trafficking is basically people that are actually having servitude without being paid for it. Sex trafficking is girls and boys, men and women, that are actually being sold for sex, and they don't get to see the monies. And that is going on on the Coast," said Sharon Robbins, president of Advocates for Freedom.
Shared Hope International will host an international training session in New Orleans later this year on the issue of human trafficking.