From this Reuters story, writer Deborah Charles attended a press conference that the State Department had to reveal their report on human trafficking.
In its annual "Trafficking in Persons" report, which tracks "modern slavery" like forced labor and the sex trade, the State Department said growing poverty around the world has sparked an increase in both supply and demand for human trafficking.
"In a time of economic crisis, victims are more vulnerable, affected communities are more vulnerable," Luis de Baca said as he presented the report.
"Persons who are under economic stress are more likely to fall prey to the wiles of the traffickers who often get their victims through promises of a better life, promises of better earnings," he said.
De Baca said human trafficking can be valued at about $50 billion a year. That includes about $31 billion profit earned by the traffickers plus about $20 billion in opportunity cost from lost labor of the people who are put into bondage.
The State Department expanded a blacklist of governments it believes are not doing enough to stop human trafficking to 17, out of 175 countries it monitors in the annual report.
Chad, Malaysia, Niger, Mauritania and Zimbabwe were included among the worst offenders -- putting them at risk of losing some U.S. aid.
Cuba, Myanmar and North Korea have received the lowest ranking in each year they have been included in the report started nine years ago.
The lowest ranking means the United States could withhold aid that is not humanitarian or trade-related.