A sting set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigations has resulted in the arrests of four American men over the last few months for federal human trafficking offenses. The sting was set up in a wealthy suburb of Phoenix, Arizona and featured a fake auction at which attendees believed they would have the opportunity to purchase sex slaves.
The FBI had been investigating an online slave-trading organization based in Malaysia, which they found to be a scam. However, they were able to extract the names of several Americans from online activities associated with the organization and reach out to them after they showed interest in attending the fictitious auction in Arizona.
Phoenix police helped organize and run the sting operation which was part of a more expansive effort by the FBI to bring down human traffickers, particularly those who are engaged in forcing children into the global commercial sex slave market.
The operation is considered a landmark case and came as a result of the Bureau’s years-long investigation into human trafficking, part of which has led to the realization that there is a growing number of people in the United States who show an interest in owning human slaves. Some are interested in slaves for the purposes of human labor and some for the purpose of sex.
Attorneys for the four men arrested, however, say that the FBI went too far in setting up the sting and that the accused were lured into committing a crime that they would not have committed otherwise.
On the other hand, there are many who believe that such tactics are part of the FBI’s history of pioneering “outside the box” solutions and that in cases of something as serious as human trafficking, they are doing what they have to do to bring down the perpetrators.