Americas: New Joint Initiative Against Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling

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Treliant Takeaway:

INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have launched Project Turquesa to combat migrant smuggling and human trafficking in the Americas. The project aims to address the lack of reliable data and enhance cooperation between investigators and prosecutors in tackling these crimes. It will provide research, training, and technical support to improve understanding, build capacity, and foster cooperation among law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Treliant can support clients in their fight against human trafficking by assisting them in developing and enhancing their anti-human trafficking programs. This includes conducting risk assessments, designing and implementing policies and procedures, training employees on identifying and reporting suspicious activities, and providing ongoing monitoring and compliance support to meet regulatory requirements.


Project Turquesa, a joint initiative by INTERPOL and the UNODC, was launched to combat the pervasive issues of human trafficking and migrant smuggling in the Americas. These crimes generate significant profits for organized crime groups, with Latin American and Caribbean countries being the primary focus of their operations in the region. Building upon the successful models of previous INTERPOL-led operations, the initiative places particular emphasis on gender considerations and the protection of rights for smuggled migrants and trafficking victims. It also aims to address the challenges posed by limited reliable data and the lack of cooperation between investigators and prosecutors. By providing research, operational and strategic analysis, training, and technical support, Project Turquesa aims to enhance understanding, capacity, and collaboration among law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in the targeted regions. The ultimate goal is to create a coordinated, global response to these transnational crimes and to safeguard vulnerable communities.

Key Recommendations

In 2022, Compliance Week, a sister company to the International Compliance Association (ICA), produced a helpful Human Trafficking article titled “How Compliance Can Help Prevent Human Trafficking”.

Human Trafficking Risks for Financial Institutions:

  • Legal Risk: sanctions, fines, and even criminal charges are common punishments for involvement, negligence, or complicity in human trafficking
  • Reputational Risk: unethical business practices harm your company’s brand via negative news
  • Regulatory Risk: without supply chain transparency, it is difficult to demonstrate compliance to regulators

Common Signs of Exploitation in Trafficked Individuals:

  • Acts under instruction or coercion, displaying lack of autonomy.
  • Shows signs of physical or psychological abuse, including low self-esteem, anxiety, bruises, or untreated medical conditions.
  • Exhibits signs of bonded debt or wage deductions.
  • Limited or no contact with family or loved ones.
  • Distrustful of authorities.
  • Threats against themselves or family members.
  • Lacks possession of personal legal documents.

To maintain general adherence to various regulations, companies should:

  • Implement policies aimed at preventing human trafficking.
  • Conduct comprehensive training and awareness programs.
  • Maintain ongoing monitoring to identify trafficking risks.
  • Obtain compliance certifications from suppliers and vendors to ensure adherence to anti-trafficking standards.
  • Establish and sustain a helpline for reporting instances of trafficking.

For more information, please consult the US State Department’s 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report

This Takeaway was authored by Richard Lee