Difference between Smuggling and Trafficking

Key Difference: The term, ‘smuggling’ refers to the illegal movement of goods from one place to another, whereas ‘trafficking’ refers to the illegal movement of goods with the purpose of trade. Hence, the basic difference between the two terms is that smuggled goods need not be sold, they can be for personal use, whereas goods are always trafficked with the intention of selling them.

Both the terms ‘smuggling’ and ‘trafficking’ refer to the illegal movement of goods from one place to another. This can include drugs, guns, and even humans. So, if both mean the illegal movement of goods, what is the difference between the two terms?

The term, ‘smuggling’ refers to the illegal movement of goods from one place to another, whereas ‘trafficking’ refers to the illegal movement of goods with the purpose of trade. Hence, the basic difference between the two terms is that smuggled goods need not be sold, they can be for personal use, whereas goods are always trafficked with the intention of selling them.

Similarly, a smuggler is often hired to just move the goods from one location to another. He usually does not have any personal stake in the goods, and is just paid to move the goods. The goods are moved this way so that they can avoid laws that prohibit the import and export of those goods and/or to avoid paying duties on the goods.

A trafficker, on the other hand, may smuggle the goods himself or may hire a smuggler to move the goods. However, as he intends to sell the goods after smuggling them, the act becomes trafficking rather than just smuggling. Also, the goods may be legal to move across borders, in which case it does not count as smuggling, however, if the person is illegally selling then afterwards, then it still counts as trafficking.

The terms smuggling and trafficking are often used in the context of humans. Human smuggling basically means illegally transporting a human from one place to another. After the human has been located to the new place, the smuggler usually does not have anything else to do with him. However, human trafficking is more like a slave trade. In this, the person is illegally brought over into a new location and then exploited by the traffickers via means of force, coercion, threat, and deception. These people often face human right abuses including debt bondage, deprivation of liberty, and lack of control over freedom and labor. Human trafficking is mainly done for labor or sex.

A major difference between human smuggling and human trafficking is that human smuggling is commonly done with the consent and knowledge of the smuggled person; in fact they may even pay the smuggler to be smuggled. However, human trafficking is often done by deceiving the trafficked person usually with promises of a better future.

Comparison between Smuggling and Trafficking:

 

Smuggling

Trafficking

Definition (Merriam-Webster)

  • To move (someone or something) from one country into another illegally and secretly
  • To take or bring (something) secretly
  • Import and export trade
  • The business of bartering or buying and selling
  • Illegal or disreputable usually commercial activity

Description

Smuggling basically means to secretly import and export goods in violation of the law, especially without payment of legal duty.

Trafficking refers to the illegal movement of goods for the purpose of trade.

Sales

Need not be sold

Must be for the purpose of selling

International borders

Smuggling always crosses an international border.

No requirement to cross an international border.

Human

Smuggling humans just means illegally moving them from once place to another

Trafficking humans is basically a slave trade, where humans are illegally bought over from another country and exploit them.

Image Courtesy: ibtimes.com, stalbansdav.com

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