The research validates our unwavering commitment to continuously contribute and enrich the public’s knowledge and awareness of human trafficking. Through data collection and analysis, we are able to delve deeper into the scope and nature of this crime.

Also, it allows us to create proactive actions based on the evidence and data. This serves as the root for the creation of our community programs, awareness campaigns, and public policy recommendations.

To understand the pattern of this crime, it is essential to analyze the local context within a global scope.

Collaborating with academic institutions, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations to develop and implement solutions to the problems related to the exploitation of children is central to our research.

The results enable us to make recommendations to consultants from different sectors to curb child trafficking at a national and international level. 

According to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes: “research on human trafficking is vital to ensure adequate prevention, protection, proper assistance to victims, and the prosecution of criminals”.


1st Research – Human Trafficking: An Invisible Challenge   


2nd Research – Human Trafficking: Modern Slavery in Puerto Rico

Portada Ingles

3rd Research – Gender Violence and Trafficking

Gender Violence and Trafficking

Important findings from our research

Our research has unmasked the existence of human trafficking in Puerto Rico. We have succeeded in identifying the activities for which children are victims of human trafficking in Puerto Rico, these include:

Labor Exploitation

  • Distribution and sale of drugs
  • Drug Trafficking: Armed violence (there are currently 1,800 drug points in PR)
    • “I never killed, but I did shoot from one car to another… I mean I don’t know if I killed anyone, but I did shoot a bunch of times” – Juan (12 years old) – Victim of narco-exploitation 
  • Domestic Work
  • Begging
    • Seven children were removed from their homes by Departamento de la Familia, whose officers found that these children were being exploited by relatives forcing them to beg for money on the streets at all hours” 

Sexual Exploitation

  • Prostitution of another
    • “She always exploited me, when I was younger I remember I was in first grade and she locked us in a room, both my sister and I, in those beds with mosquito nets and metal rod frames…and she tied us up. She was given 100 dollars and the men had sexual relations with us” – Liza (6 years old) – Victim of sexual exploitation
    • Tania Figueroa Pagán and Kenneth Martinez Baez Case – The defendants prostituted their 11 year old daughter and face charges of aggravated pimping, human trafficking, and child abuse. 
  • Sexual Tourism
  • Child Pornography
    • Hotel Dupont Case – In 1986, after the Hotel Dupont fire, police officers found pornographic photos of men having sex with minors 
  • Massage Parlors
  • Purchased or fake marriages
    • “A young Filipina arrived in the country with a marriage contract to a senior official of a federal branch, who submitted her to sexual slavery for eight months” 
  • Exploitation for reproductive purposes
    • “While most children traditionally receive presents during this time to celebrate the Epiphany, one fourteen-year-old girl’s biological mother forced her to have sex with her stepfather for reproductive purposes because the mother was unable to have more children” 

In all these cases the exploiter tends to be:

  • Member of the family
  • Member of the foster family
  • Member of the foster home
  • Neighbor

about our investigators

César A. Rey Hernández Ph.D.

Professor of the Graduate School of Public Administration at the University of Puerto Rico. He holds a doctorate in sociology from Universidad Nacional Autónoma of México, where he received the highest national award of doctoral studies, the Gabino Barreda Prize. He has 29 years of academic experience, has been an author and co-author of a dozen academic books, more than one hundred professional articles in the field of sociology. His academic and research interests revolve around education and immigration issues. Dr. Rey possesses a vast administrative experience in higher education. After 16 years in the department, research and university administration, Dr. Rey was appointed Secretary of Education of Puerto Rico, during the years 2001 to 2004. In 2005, he returns to the department at the University of Puerto Rico and continues his teaching and research highlighting the latest about human trafficking in Puerto Rico. Dr. Rey belongs to various government and NGO boards in both Puerto Rico and the United States.

Dra. Luisa Hernández Angueira 

Luisa Hernández-Angueira is a professor of sociology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, with a doctorate in sociology from Universidad Nacional Autónoma of México. She is the author of Puerto Rican Women, Welfare and Globalization and coauthor of “Human Trafficking in Puerto Rico: An Invisible Challenge” and “Human Trafficking: a modern form of slavery in Puerto Rico” in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, UPR, and RMF. Her research interests revolve around women, gender, migration, and social policy. She is a human rights activist.

Sheila Pérez López

Sheila Pérez López has a Bachelor of Arts with a major in psychology from University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez, a Master of Arts with a major in academic-investigative psychology from University of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras, and a Doctor of Philosophy with specialization in psychology from the same institution. During the last years, her research interests have been related to the area of education, human development, and social justice. She has presented her work in both local and international forums on the following topics: social and educational exclusion: breeding ground for narco-exploitation, psychology teachings, research training for graduates, the importance of student associations in the promotion of research, and academic failure and the prospect of equity in education.

about out partners

Protection Project

The Protection Project is a human rights research institute founded by Laura Lederer in 1994 to address the issue of trafficking in persons as a human rights violation, The Protection Project focuses on the promotion of human rights values throughout the world.  Of particular importance to The Protection Project is the protection of human security, especially women’s and children’s rights; fostering of civil society and NGO development through capacity building and coalition building; enhancement of the rule of law by encouraging citizen participation in the political process; advancement of human rights education; and elimination of trafficking in persons. For more information, visit:

University of Puerto Rico

UPR is the oldest and largest academic institution in the country, as well as the first public university in Puerto Rico. At the heart of our partnership with the University of Puerto Rico is the School of Law, an avant-garde institution, where Dr. César Rey’s students performed academic research that bolstered our understanding of human trafficking in Puerto Rico. The Graduate School of Public Administration (Río Piedras) leads the investigation of human trafficking in Puerto Rico and develops strategies to promote effective solutions. For more information, visit: