They were wealthy and well-educated with words like “executive” and “Harvard” strung behind their names. They seemed like the type of man 21-year-old Denico Harris aspired to become. But their big houses and impressive resumes masked an insidious underground world where young, vulnerable men were bought and sold. By the time Harris discovered their secret, it was too late — he had become their slave.
Harris’ fall into human trafficking began six years ago on a Seattle college campus. The environmental science student and aspiring musician met a group of “well-to-do” older men who offered him employment. He said the networking potential and $40 an hour they promised appeared to be a golden opportunity. But when he arrived at a house for his first assignment, things quickly took a dark turn. He said a group of about 15 men arrived and restrained him. They used mind games, drugs and threats to force him into submission. After kidnapping him, he said they started to sell him to various men for labor and sex. But Harris said the manipulation began long before his capture. He said the men had been luring him into their social circle for months.
A 2011 United Nations study underscored the lack of research on traffickers and their methods. Harris agrees.
He said it took two years for him to realize he had been trafficked because he didn’t expect “intelligent people who have done well for themselves to do things like that in the U.S.” Harris said traffickers are successful because people aren’t educated about who they are and what they do. “These people are thriving on the fact that people don’t think this is going on,” he said. “This is modern-day slavery. It’s the most serious issue. Human trafficking is close to a death.”
Learn more at the GOPUSA article: Merchants of modern slavery.