No Victim? Don’t Give Up: Creative Strategies in Prosecuting Human Trafficking Cases Using Forfeiture by Wrongdoing and Other Evidence-Based Techniques

The challenges presented in the course of investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases can be daunting. Among the most common and difficult of these obstacles is the inability or unwillingness of victims to participate in the process. This reluctance may be based upon a variety of factors, including the victims’ fear, shame, distrust of law enforcement, and a real — or perceived — lack of alternatives to trafficking as a way of life. Sometimes the unwillingness of victims to participate arises from their relationships with their traffickers, who may exploit love and intimate relationships to recruit their victims. These challenges are significant but not insurmountable. Prosecutors and allied professionals can employ strategies to enhance the willingness of victims to participate in the prosecution of their traffickers and to enhance the success of the trafficking prosecution even without their participation. When victims do not participate, however, preparing and litigating forfeiture by wrongdoing motions is critical to the successful prosecution of these cases. This article discusses several key investigative and prosecution strategies.