Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Harry E. Vanden, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Roach, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roberta Baer, Ph.D.


Central America, Central Mexico, human slavery, human trafficking


Florida is ranked as one of the United States' top three destination states for human trafficking; many of those victims originate from Mesoamerica--Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Human trafficking is a growing problem which hinders universal human rights for hundreds of new victims in Florida every year. Mesoamericans have a high risk of becoming victims due to the situations in their home countries. The issue of human trafficking has only recently gained the national and state attention of law makers and law enforcement officers.

This study uses several human trafficking cases to educate and exemplify why Mesoamerican victims are selected and how human trafficking takes place in Florida. The results of this study demonstrate that traffickers use their knowledge of victims and victims' societies to lure and then enslave them into sex and labor trafficking. This research uses criminal cases to illustrate the conditions of the enslavement of human trafficking victims, the methods used by the traffickers, and the culmination of the court cases for both victims and perpetrators. Furthermore, it provides points of discussion to initiate future research and to guide legislature and law enforcement in methods to end this barrier to universal human rights.