Note: This post was originally written in June 2009.  Since then, I have seen other writers who argue there may not be sufficient factual basis to substantiate the claim below. Underneath the original post, I will provide links to alternate views on the topic.  In one sense, it’s academic.  There is plenty of evidence that human trafficking is a huge problem worldwide, so it doesn’t make that much difference if it’s #3, or #1, or some other number.  It’s a problem, and it needs to be addressed.  On the other hand, I don’t want to perpetuate inaccuracies in the name of a cause.  Truth is one of the most powerful weapons for justice, so it ultimately undermines the abolition movement if I spread misinformation.  – Carl – January 2012


We’re number three! Illegal sales of weapons and drugs are the most lucrative criminal enterprises worldwide.  Human trafficking is third.  Perhaps worth more than $12 billion a year.

I’ve heard this statistic other places, but I specifically got this and other helpful information from the following excellent site:  (Note: As of January 2012, the new website for this group is but the I can no longer find the post which contained the information above.)

“Trafficking in human beings is now the third-largest moneymaking venture in the world, after illegal weapons and drugs. In fact, the United Nations estimates that the trade nets organized crime more than $12 billion a year” (Victor Malarek, The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade, 2003). The Natashas



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