Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Releases Advisory on Human Trafficking

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

 A Criminal Law Article

By NJ Criminal lawyer, David A. Schwartz

Recently, in September 2014, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released an advisory to assist financial institutions in identifying and reporting transactions possibly associated with human smuggling and human trafficking.

In collaboration with law enforcement agencies, non-governmental organizations and members of the financial industry, FinCEN has identified financial indicators, or “red flags,” that may indicate financial activity related to human smuggling or human trafficking. In addition to identifying red flags, the advisory provides common terms that financial institutions may use when reporting activity related to these crimes. The use of common terms will assist law enforcement in better identifying possible cases of human smuggling or human trafficking reported through Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs).

Human Smuggling

Human smuggling is defined as acts or attempts to bring unauthorized aliens to or into the United States, transport them within the U.S., harbor unlawful aliens, encourage entry of illegal aliens, or conspire to commit these violations, knowingly or in reckless disregards of illegal status.

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is defined as the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for forced labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion.

How Human Smuggling Works

Stages of Human smuggling generally include:

Solicitation: A potential migrant may seek the services of a local facilitator/smuggler. Local facilitators/smugglers are often part of a larger smuggling network that works to bring migrants across a country border. In the United States, illegal migrants often originate from Mexico and Central America, but they may originate from anywhere in the world.

Transportation: Migrants may be smuggled through a number of different routes and transportation modes to avoid detection. The person may be transported by air, sea and/or land over an international border.

In applying these red flags, financial institutions are advised that no single transactional red flag is a clear indicator or human smuggling or trafficking-related activity. Accordingly, financial institutions should consider additional factors, such as a customer’s expected financial activity, when deeming whether transactions may be associated with human trafficking.

Suspicious Activity Reporting

Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) continue to be a valuable avenue for financial institutions to report suspected human smuggling or trafficking. Consistent with the standard for reporting suspicious activity as provided for in 31 CFR Chapter X, if a financial institutions knows, suspects, or has reason to suspect that a transaction has no business or apparent lawful purpose or is not the sort in which the particular customer would normally be expected to be engaged, and the financial institution knows of no reasonable explanation for the transaction after examining the available facts, including the background and possible purpose of the transaction, the financial institution should file a Suspicious Activity Report.

Human Smuggling/Trafficking Red Flags


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