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Human Trafficking on Ukraine’s Border

Psychology Today

Aug 29, 2022

Traffickers specialize in spotting the traumatized and vulnerable.

As if Ukraine does not have enough going on, human traffickers are omnipresent on the borders between Ukraine and the West. The traffickers specialize in exploiting individuals traumatized by war.

A Trained Intelligence Professional Recognizes Traffickers

Last week, Stephen Komorek, CEO of API International Consulting Group, accompanied me to visit the border crossing at Medyka, in southeast Poland. An intelligence professional, now in the private sector, who specializes in combating human trafficking, Komorek is adept at detecting body language and other “tells” that may be invisible to people who don’t have his training.

The busy Medyka border with Ukraine is host to individuals who may look like taxi drivers, or maybe aid workers, who are almost certainly human traffickers. To Komorek’s trained eye, a hundred small tells of body language and sizing up potential victims reveal them as predators.

One thing he particularly notices:

“Traffickers work as a team to select their victims. The first member of this team is the spotter. The spotter identifies and selects the potential victims. You can usually see spotters on their phones watching and calling in potential victims before the victims get where the second part of the team lurks, ready to take control of the victim.”

Traffickers Select Their Victims

Komorek knows that when a spotter is sizing up a prospective victim, he or she is checking out how exhausted and vulnerable the victim looks. Assuming the prospective victim is a woman, the trafficker will particularly be assessing the woman’s shoes, clothing, and posture...


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