Human Trafficking in America

Human Trafficking in America

Five-part multimedia series investigates the exploitation of U.S. immigrants, legal and illegal, from Tijuana, Guatemala and beyond. (Kansas City Star)

In a massive, in-depth investigative report not often attempted by newspapers these days, Kansas City Star reporters and a photographer/videographer traveled the world, from Guatemalan migrant shelters to the deadly streets of Tijuana. They found that America is losing the battle — even in its own backyard. In fact, Kansas City is an emerging hub of human trafficking activity. The package includes five parts, each dealing with an aspect of the issue in video, photos, text and infographics.

CHANNEL: Kansas City Star

Reporters: Mike McGraw, Laura Bauer, Mark Morris
Video and photography: Keith Myers
Narration: Dave Eames

DAY 1: Human trafficking in America: A new slavery

Summary: Reporters discuss the key points of the investigation, noting that the unfortunate victims of human trafficking may be “your neighbor, your co-worker or your friend.” Immigrants are often heavily in debt to criminals who brought them here, and wind up virtual slaves — mistreated and threatened with their lives. Although the U.S. government has technically “declared war” on this practice, it is doing little to stop it, and frequently denies assistance to victims.

Length: 3:43


By: Dave Eames and Mark Morris
Graphic: A primer on human trafficking statistics, with a world map locating source of victims and reported incidences trafficking in the United States. Also includes helpful definitions, and warning signs to identify victims and how to report them.

DAY 2: Snares of the Sex Trade

Video: Repeats from Day 1


DAY 3: Fraud’s welcome mat

Summary: Guatemala, a country that is the poorest in the hemisphere, is one source of human trafficking. The video highlights the plight of Luis, a typically poor Guatemalan, who had worked illegally in the U.S. to earn money for his family, then was deported and lost it all. Extreme poverty in this country causes thousands of citizens to flee to the U.S. each year, and law enforcement is unable or unwilling to intervene.

Length: 3:11


DAY 4: Ask questions later

Summary: The Star was allowed to board a flight operated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) that returned deportees to Guatemala, “a flight nobody want to catch.” The deportees are searched extensively, and can be abused and threatened even on the flight. Once returned home, some may repeat the cycle.

Length: 2:21


DAY 5: Changing Views

Summary: An audio slide presentation with a summary of the report’s findings, as told by the reporters who worked on the series, and their suggestions for solutions to the problem.

Length: 2:16