U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Prostitution and the Mafia: The Involvement of Organized Crime in the Global Sex Trade

NCJ Number
Transnational Organized Crime Volume: 3 Issue: 4 Dated: Winter 1997 Pages: 119-144
Sarah Shannon
Phil Williams
Date Published
26 pages
After an overview of the global sex trade, this paper highlights its distinctive features and explores its regional manifestations, followed by an examination of the involvement of international criminal syndicates and an assessment of their importance in the industry.
The global sex trade involves the trafficking of persons for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. There are three main forms of sexual exploitation: prostitution, the transfer of persons from one party to another for commercial sexual purposes in exchange for money or other recompense, and pornography. The primary means of securing persons for exploitation are kidnapping, sale by the victim's family, and the false promise of work. Several other factors contribute to the success of the commercial sex industry, including demand, poverty, and cultural attitudes toward women. In analyzing the role of organized crime in the global sex trade, the essay focuses on Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and the United States. The author concludes that it is clear criminal organizations frequently traffic women and children for forced prostitution and that these organizations provide security, support, or liaison services to pimps, brothel owners, and other mafia groups. Their involvement is essential to the efficiency and success of the sex industry. If effective countermeasures are to be developed and implemented, a more thorough knowledge of the role organized crime plays in this illicit market is essential. 129 notes