Human Trafficking victims implanted with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips are showing up in US emergency rooms. Marketplace reports that the metallic objects slightly larger than a grain of rice are being embedded in victims’ bodies. In an interview, Dr. A, whose identity is being concealed to protect the victim, describes it as “a small glass capsule with a little, almost like a circuit board, inside of it.” He says it is an RFID chip, the same chip that is used to tag cats and dogs. The victim, he says, was tagged “like an animal, like she was somebody’s pet that they owned.”
Dr. Dale Carrison at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas is raising awareness to advocates for these victims in the healthcare system. He says, “There’s so many sci-fi movies where they stick a device in somebody. Well, guess what? It’s real. It happened.” Treating these human trafficking victims has been a big wakeup call for Dr. Carrison, and he is compelled to get the word out to colleagues.
Human trafficking is not relegated to just sex-related crimes. As Katherine Chon, Director of the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Trafficking Persons points out, “Very plainly, human trafficking is when one person takes advantage of another person for some profit.”
Marketplace points out that human trafficking can mean being locked in a room, having an RFID chip injected under your skin, or your employer holding your passport. Trafficking is found in industries like prostitution, manufacturing, and domestic service. Further, according to the Justice Department, “83 percent of confirmed sex trafficking victims are US citizens.”
According to a Fox News article, “Microchip implants like the ones pet owners use to track their dogs and cats could become commonplace in humans in the next decade.” However, it goes on to say that experts are divided as to whether they are “appropriate for people.” Some experts argue that an implant could be the difference between life and death for soldiers and journalists in war zones, as well as kidnapped children.
The article goes on to say that the benefits of microchips range from fighting crime, monitoring those with health problems like Alzheimer’s, tracking livestock, to taking attendance in schools. However, there have been ongoing ethical concerns since the FDA approved the first implantable microchip in 2004 like identity theft and privacy. Additionally, there are health risks associated with microchipping that, so far, have only been studied on animals.
Distraction Addiction author and visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Peace Innovation Lab Alex Soojung-Kim Pang says, “In the long run, chip implants could make it less intrusive than some emerging ID systems which rely on physical biometrics (like your fingerprints or unique eye pattern).”
Dr. Mercola has an article by veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker who discusses the implications of microchipping on pets. She says that there is potential for the pet’s body to reject the object, citing sarcoma and fibrosarcoma, two types of soft tissue tumors. Other reactions range from localized inflammatory response to tumor formation at the injection site.
She concludes with the fact that “microchips carry the risk of an autoimmune reaction or a degenerative reaction where your pet’s immune system becomes aggravated or chronically inflamed, which can in turn lead to tissue degeneration and abnormal cell growth, or cancer at the site of implantation.”
Chip Me Not of the UK reports, “More evidence is emerging that indicates that implanted microchips can cause cancer in animals,” citing a report that states that chip implants “induced” malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats.
Image of implant removed October 2015 from trafficking victim via Marketplace