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Sex Slaves and Serfs: The Dynamics of Human Trafficking in a Small Florida Town

Erin C. Heil
Sex Slaves and Serfs: The Dynamics of Human Trafficking in a Small Florida Town
ISBN: 978-1-935049-51-7
2012/169 pages/LC: 2012013548
A FirstForumPress Book
"An excellent illustration of the plight of undocumented and documented people who toil in the U.S. agricultural industry.”"—Amber Horning, Journal of Human Trafficking

"A compelling and thorough snapshot of a growing epidemic that is often hidden from the public eye."—Patrick Webb, International Criminal Justice Review

"A powerful and richly detailed work contributing to the academic discourse on human trafficking. Heil has opened a window to provide a view into this shadow economy where victims are hidden in plain sight throughout the U.S."—Jason Chatman, ASC Division on Women and Crime Newsletter

"Heil presents the raw experiences of these victims, challenging the stereotypes and preconceived notions.... Sex Slaves and Serfs provides insight into a crime that is widely prevalent, yet still largely unknown to the general public."—Kathleen Powell, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

"Wonderful.... This excellent book brings home the problem of human trafficking in the US. Through victim accounts, Erin Heil discusses incidents that have occurred in Florida—with few consequences for the abusers. She provides a much-needed addition to the literature."—Kimberly A. McCabe, Lynchburg College


Erin Heil explores the global problem of human trafficking in the context of a small Florida town—one typical of the many rural communities that confront modern day slavery in their own backyards.

Drawing on two years of interviews and observation, Heil lays out the dynamics that allow both agricultural and sexual forced labor to flourish. She also highlights community antitrafficking responses. Including the perspectives of traffickers, victims, and community members in one rich portrait, her work ably contributes to the fight against human trafficking at the local, state, and national levels alike.


Erin C. Heil is assistant professor of criminal justice at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.


  • The Problem of Forced Labor.
  • Agricultural Slavery.
  • Forced Commercial Sex Labor.
  • Law Enforcement Responses.
  • Community Responses.
  • Effecting Change.