Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 205–214 | Cite as

When farmworkers and advocates see trafficking but law enforcement does not: challenges in identifying labor trafficking in North Carolina

  • Kelle Barrick
  • Pamela K. Lattimore
  • Wayne J. Pitts
  • Sheldon X. Zhang


This article reports on the perceptions and experiences with labor trafficking of farmworkers, stakeholders, and law enforcement representatives in North Carolina. We found a sizeable number of farmworkers who had experienced labor trafficking violations, albeit with a convenience sample; and community agencies reported stories of labor trafficking victimization. However, most of the state and local law enforcement agencies that we attempted to contact simply ignored our requests for information about labor trafficking or reported no evidence of such victimization. Notwithstanding the sample limitations, we found a general lack of awareness of agricultural labor trafficking problems among law enforcement officials in our surveyed jurisdictions. We question whether our current law enforcement system will ever be in a position to effectively enforce the anti-labor-trafficking law; and suggest an alternative specialized mechanism be established.


Human Trafficking Trafficking Victim Migrant Farmworker Trafficking Case Labor Trafficking 
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RTI International is an independent organization dedicated to conducting innovative, multidisciplinary research that improves the human condition.

This project was sponsored by Grant Number 2009-IJ-CX-0047, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelle Barrick
    • 1
  • Pamela K. Lattimore
    • 1
  • Wayne J. Pitts
    • 1
  • Sheldon X. Zhang
    • 2
  1. 1.RTI InternationalNorth CarolinaUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

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