most clearly prohibits the exploitation of children for gang-related services. Convention 182
For the purposes of this Convention, the term the worst forms of child
(a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale
and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or
compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of
children for use in armed conflict;
(b) the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the
production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
(c) the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in
particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the
relevant international treaties;
(d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried
out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.39
The types of services performed by juvenile gang members, from selling and transporting drugs
to engaging in crimes against persons and weapons crimes,40 fall under at least one of the
enumerated “worst forms of child labor,” particularly those at (c) and (d).
The TVPA41 closely resembles the international treaties regarding human trafficking. In
addition to this federal legislation, states and municipalities typically have their own human-trafficking laws that may differ from the TVPA in some small respects.42 For instance, the Illinois
Safe Children’s Act43 includes a provision permitting wiretapping,44 which allows local law
enforcement to more easily investigate and prosecute trafficking cases by increasing access to
evidence. These anti-trafficking acts allow for prosecutions at state and federal levels, providing
prosecutors with every possible opportunity to go after traffickers. For example, the Cook County
Human Trafficking Taskforce works closely with state and federal prosecutors, leading to
prosecutions of individuals in the same trafficking scheme in one or the other venue, depending
on whether the federal or state case was strongest.45
United States labor regulations are based on and interpret the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”).46 This statute covers a wide range of labor-related topics, including child labor.47 On
that subject, the FLSA prohibits employers from using “oppressive child labor.”48 This is
39 ILO Convention 182, supra note 37, at art. 3.
40 Elizabeth Braunstein, Are Gang Members, Like Other Child Soldiers, Entitled to Protection from Prosecution Under International
Law?, 3 U.C. DAVIS J. JUV. L. & POL’Y, 75, 77–78 (1999).
41 See Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-386, 114 Stat. 1464 (2000) (codified as amended
at 22 U.S.C. §§ 7101–7113 (2012)).
42 Sarah Murillo, 21st Century Slaves: Children Reduced to Products—Captured in the Business of Supply and Demand, 6 PHOENIX L.
REV. 695, 712, 714–18 (2013).
43 Pub. Act. No. 96-1464, 2010 Ill. Laws 6931 (codified as amended in scattered chapters of ILL. COMP. STAT.).
44 725 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/108B-3 ( West 2015).
45 United States v. Sawyer, 733 F.3d 228, 229 (7th Cir. 2013); see also Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Chicago Man Convicted
of Sex Trafficking Minors (Nov. 21, 2011), available at http://www.fbi.gov/chicago/press-releases/2011/chicago-man-convicted-of-
sex-trafficking-minors (referencing two co-defendants who pleaded guilty to felony pandering charges in state court for participating
in Sawyer’s sex trafficking operation as drivers and enforcers).
46 Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, ch. 676, 52 Stat. 1060 (codified as amended at 29 U.S.C. §§ 201–219 (2012)); see 29 C.F.R. §§
570.1–570.72 (2015) (discussing employment of minors and their employment in particularly hazardous occupations).
47 29 U.S.C. § 212(a), (c).