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The number of slaves today remains as high as 12 million to 27 million. Most are debt slaves, largely in South Asia, who are under debt bondage incurred by lenders, sometimes even for generations. Human trafficking is primarily for prostituting women and children into sex industries. It is the fastest growing criminal industry and is predicted to eventually outgrow drug trafficking.
Total annual revenues of traffickers were estimated in 2004 to range from US $5 billion to US $9 billion. Due to the illegal nature of trafficking and differences in methodology, the exact extent and growth of the industry is unknown. According to United States Department of State data, an “estimated 600,000 to 820,000 men, women, and children [are] trafficked across international borders each year, approximately 70 percent are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. The data also illustrates that the majority of transnational victims are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation.” However, they go on to say that “the alarming enslavement of people for purposes of labor exploitation, often in their own countries, is a form of human trafficking that can be hard to track from afar.”