Illicit trade fuels modern slavery. Human trafficking is a highly lucrative line of business for the global criminal network that also engages in the trade of drugs, wildlife, counterfeit products, etc. These criminals reap profit not only from the trading of human beings but also from exploiting the victims to produce, distribute and finance their illicit trade operations.

This research aims to understand the nexus between modern slavery and illicit trade by analyzing how modern slavery is involved in the value chains of different types of illicit trade operations. From laborers who are forced to produce counterfeit products with little to no compensation, to women that are coerced into sexual labor to make money for organized crime groups, we identified that modern slavery can be found in each step of the illicit trade value chains.

Illicit trade and modern slavery - Junghoon Park, Kelsie Imus, Alyssa Klotz, Jelena Pejovic (Mekong Club and Erb Institute at University of Michigan), May 2022 DOWNLOAD

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