Tattoos of Human Trafficking Victims

Much like how a farmer brands cattle, many times, human trafficking victims will be coerced into getting tattooed as a way to signify that they belong to a certain pimp/trafficker. Identifying tattoos related to human trafficking can make it easier for you to help intervene and provide assistance to these victims. Tattoos used by traffickers can vary by region. You can check with your local law enforcement agencies to inquire about the potential of tattoos identified as common in your community.

Bar Codes

Image - The Independent

A tattoo resembling the above bar code has long been linked to human trafficking in Europe. While there is no definitive meaning behind the numbers, there is a belief that some traffickers use this number as the sum the trafficking victims would have to earn to be given their freedom.

Property of...

Image - CNN

In many instances in America, the trafficker will tattoo his name (or nickname) on the trafficking victims, signaling that they are property. Victims are ofter coerced into getting these tattoos as a way to show they belong to a group and are cared for. Similar tattoos can include a crown with the trafficker's initials. Be advised, these tattoos are also common among women who belong to a motorcycle club and they may not be victims of human trafficking.


Image: Daily Mail

While not always the case, sometimes, the amount of money tattooed on the victim is the asking price. Currency can include a money bag, coins, dollar bills or currency symbols.

Common Tattoo Areas

While the victims can have numerous tattoos in various areas, common tattoo locations linked to human trafficking include the neck, arm and above the groin area.

Submit Tattoos Linked to Trafficking

Are you aware of any tattoos linked to human trafficking in your area? It is important to identify these tattos so that your community is aware of other potential trafficking victims. Please email Justin Worsley at an image of the tattoo, your location and any additional relevant information.

Additional Resources

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease abstract: Tattoo Recognition in Screening for Victims of Human Trafficking

Are You a Victim?

Survivor's Ink is a non-profit organization that helps human trafficking victims by beautifying, removing or covering their physical scars, markings and brandings.