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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                                 

United Mexican States (Mexico)

Mexico has a free market economy in the trillion dollar class. It contains a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector.

Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal.

The administration continues to face many economic challenges including the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize labor laws, and allow private investment in the energy

Description: Description: Description: Mexico

sector. Calderon has stated that his top economic priorities remain reducing poverty and creating jobs.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Mexico is a large source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Groups considered most vulnerable to human trafficking in Mexico include women and children, indigenous persons, and undocumented migrants. A significant number of Mexican women, girls, and boys are trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation, lured by false job offers from poor rural regions to urban, border, and tourist areas. According to the government, more than 20,000 Mexican children are victims of sex trafficking every year, especially in tourist and border areas.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Mexico.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to verify their authenticity or to validate their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Procuraduria General de la Republica
5346 0000
Country code: 52-



Details emerge in human trafficking case in San Antonio [PDF]

Guillermo Contreras, Express-News online, 06/02/2007

[accessed 25 August 2014]

How's $600 to buy what you'd like simply for accompanying men on trips? We can make it happen, al otro lado — on the other side.  That pitch allegedly made by a trio of women sounded like gold to some impressionable teens and a young woman not making much in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.  Three girls agreed to be smuggled to the United States in mid-May and once they were in or near San Antonio, they were primped, new clothes were bought for them and they were given English lessons. Their understanding was that they did not have to have sex with the men.

But rather than the glitz they were promised, they were sold in an underground world for prostitution, according to prosecutors and documents filed in federal court Friday.  The girls were delivered to a man in San Antonio referred to in court records as the "boss," who had them strip, inspected their bodies and told them they were going to be having sex with men for up to five years to pay off their smuggling debt.  The "boss" said he had paid $3,000 apiece for two of the girls and said he would pay even more to get them ready for other men, witnesses told investigators, according to their statements. Anyone who fled would die, and their families would also suffer the same fate, the statements said.  HTUSAMX

Forced to have sex with 60 men a day and tattooed with the name of their pimps: Human trafficking victims tell of torture they suffered at hands of three brothers who 'treated them like property'

Ryan Gorman, MailOnline, The Daily Mail, 8 February 2014

[accessed 8 Feb 2014]

PHOTO CAPTION -- Poverty-stricken: Tenancingo is relatively free of the drug gang violence that has ravaged a large part of Mexico, but sex traffickers routinely kidnap young women

Carmen was ferried around the tri-state area and forced to have sex with men in their homes and with seasonal workers in rural areas of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, she testified in court, according to the paper.   The depraved pimp forced her to have sex with as many as 60 men in one day.   ‘At the end of the day I was bleeding and in great pain caused by these men,’ she recalled, adding that he would savagely beat her if she wasn’t out earning money.   Carmen hoped her tormentor would beat her to death.   I was upset because he hadn't killed me and that I had to live another day of torture,’ she said.

Carmen finally escaped in 2010 but was locked in suicide ward at a city hospital to keep her from killing herself, she said it’s the only time she had felt safe in years.  HTUSAMX

*** ARCHIVES ***

'Spa' raids in resort towns spark outrage over Mexico's human trafficking problem

Rafael Romo, Cable News Network CNN, Cancun, 10 August 2020

[accessed 11 August 2020]


AN ALLEGED SCHEME TO BRING WOMEN INTO MEXICO -- Altogether, Montes de Oca says his officers found 21 women between the ages of 21 and 25 who were forced to work at those two places. At the Cancun site, there were two women from Venezuela, two from Mexico, and one each from Argentina, Colombia and Germany, according to the state Attorney General's Office. There were an additional 11 Venezuelan women at the site in Playa del Carmen, two Mexican women and one Colombian woman.

All had been lured by offers of high-paying jobs as personal assistants or spa therapists, Montes de Oca told CNN. "Once here, they would tell them that they had to pay for their transportation, plane tickets, immigration processing and that the way to pay for that was through prostitution. If they refused, they were threatened with physical harm or worse," he said, adding that the traffickers would take victims' passports and other personal identification documents, so that escaping was nearly impossible.

Mexico City's Anti-Human Trafficking Hotline to Expand Nationally - 01800 5533 000

Polaris, Mexico City, 30 September 2015

[accessed 26 January 2020]

Of note, Consejo’s local hotline serving Mexico City will be expanded nationwide. Between the National Helpline Against Trafficking in Persons (01800 5533 000) operated by Consejo Ciudadano in Mexico and the [U.S.] National Human Trafficking Resource Center (1-888-373-7888) operated by Polaris in the U.S., hotline coverage for victims of human trafficking will span across two-thirds of the North American continent.

Fighting Human Trafficking Across the U.S.-Mexico Border


[accessed 26 January 2020]

CASE STUDY FROM THE NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE - “But I was promised $11 an hour,” he protested. Manuel had been recruited in Guanajuato, Mexico to work on a potato farm in North Carolina. The recruiters charged Manuel and 40 other Mexican males $1,200 each for their H-2A visa, despite these fees being illegal. When Manuel and his coworkers tried to complain, their supervisors physically abused them and threatened to have them deported. By the end of the season, despite his 12-hour workdays, Manuel hadn’t even earned enough money to cover his recruitment fee. The National Human Trafficking Hotline connected him with a pro-bono lawyer who helped to obtain Manuel’s back wages. Manuel is now an advocate for other survivors of human trafficking.

Mexico announces end to funding for human trafficking NGOs

Christine Murray, Reuters, Mexico City

[accessed 18 June 2019]

Mexico will stop giving financial aid to anti-human trafficking organizations and instead run shelters and victim care directly, the president said on Monday, drawing criticism from activists who said the plan lacked detail.

 “With this system of intermediation, most of the money stayed in the hands of intermediaries,” Lopez Obrador said at a news conference.

“Now the government will do it directly,” he added, saying he wanted to open new government shelters as soon as possible.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Mexico

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 17 June 2021]


Forced labor persisted in the domestic service, child care, manufacturing, mining, food processing, construction, tourism, begging, street vending, leather goods production, and agriculture sectors, especially in the production of chili peppers and tomatoes. Women and children were subjected to domestic servitude. Women, children, indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, LGBTI persons, and migrants (including men, women, and children) were the most vulnerable to forced labor (see section 7.c.).

Day laborers and their children were the primary victims of forced and child labor in the agricultural sector. In 2016, the most recent data available, the government’s federal statistics agency (INEGI) reported 44 percent of persons working in agriculture were day laborers. Of the day laborers, 33 percent received no financial compensation for their work. Three percent of agricultural day laborers had a formal written contract.

Indigenous persons in isolated regions reported incidents of forced labor, in which cartel members forced them to perform illicit activities or face death. Minors were recruited or forced by cartels to traffic persons, drugs, or other goods across the border.


Underage children in urban areas throughout the country earned money by begging, washing windshields, selling small items, or performing in public places. In April 2019 authorities in Sinaloa announced they had identified 312 children who had worked in the streets of various cities. Authorities found the children had no relatives in the area and were possibly victims of human trafficking.

According to a 2017 INEGI survey, the number of employed children ages five to 17 was 3.2 million, or approximately 11 percent of children in the country. This represented a decrease from 12.4 percent of children in the 2015 INEGI survey. Of these children, 7.1 percent were younger than the minimum age of work or worked under conditions that violated federal labor law, such as performing hazardous work.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 3 May 2020]


Economic opportunity is limited in Mexico, which maintains a high rate of economic inequality. Migrant agricultural workers face brutally exploitative conditions in several northern states. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that Mexico’s millions of domestic workers—the vast majority of whom are women—must be incorporated into the formal sector and receive social security and health benefits.

Mexico is a major source, transit, and destination country for trafficking in persons, including women and children, many of whom are subject to forced labor and sexual exploitation. Organized criminal gangs are heavily involved in human trafficking in Mexico and into the United States. This danger was exacerbated in 2019 when the United States began denying entry to asylum seekers presenting themselves at the border, forcing as many as 56,000 to wait in nearby cities like Ciudad Juárez.

Three people charged with human trafficking

Erik Barajas , KTRK-Houston, June 04, 2009

[accessed 20 February 2011]

The bright lights of Houston are where a Mexican teenager saw hope in helping her mother. Smuggled into Texas, the 15-year-old says XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX promised her restaurant work.   She hoped to send money back to her ailing mother in Mexico, but the game changed when she reached Houston four months ago.   "They forced her into prostitution when she got over here, telling her that her family would be injured or harmed if she did not comply," said Harris County Asst. District Attorney Donna Hawkins.   The DA's office says when she failed to reach her nightly quota at local bars and cantinas, things turned violent.   "If she didn't make enough money by prostituting herself at the cantinas, they would beat her," said Hawkins.

“Rape Trees” Frame Arizona-Mexico Border: Grim Reminders of Human Trafficking

Sue Michaels,  ChattahBox News Blog, March 15, 2009

[accessed 20 February 2011]

A recent report from the Cronkite News Service, a student-run news service of Arizona State University, shed the national spotlight on a new immigration problem plaguing the desert border towns of Arizona: so called “rape trees,” trees on the U.S. side of the border littered with women’s undergarments. Mexican drug cartel members and the coyotes, who smuggle immigrants across the border, are believed to rape the women as soon as they enter U.S. territory to instill fear, intimidate and control them. When the coyote-rapists are finished, they hang the women’s panties from the trees as trophies to mark their brutal conquests.

These “rape trees” are becoming more common along the Arizona border counties of Pima and Cochise, as coyotes and drug cartel members find human trafficking more lucrative than drug smuggling.

Selling Brides: Native Mexican Custom or Crime?

Ioan Grillo, Time/CNN, San Juan Copala, Feb. 01, 2009,8599,1876102,00.html

[accessed 20 February 2011],8599,1876102,00.html

[accessed 13 January 2020]

The case centers on an alleged marriage arrangement that went sour involving Marcelino de Jesus Martinez, his 14-year-old daughter and her suitor, Margarito de Jesus Galindo, 18. Galindo had agreed to pay Martinez for his daughter's hand in marriage, according to Greenfield police. According to the cops, the total cost was $16,000, one hundred cases of beer and several cases of meat.

In the neighboring market town of Juxtlahuaca, Maria Bautista sees the practice as coercive and barbaric. "It's like a form of slavery. They buy their women and then treat them like their property," says Bautista, a single mother with her own business. Bautista has a Triqui father and Mixtec Indian mother, but she speaks only Spanish and follows few of the old traditions. She cites the cases of many older men who came back minted from working in the U.S. and who bought themselves several young wives.

Down in the state capital of Oaxaca, state human rights commissioner Heriberto Garcia also chastised the custom. "Buying and selling a woman is a clear violation of her rights," he says in his office decorated with leather-bound law books. "And a young teenage girl does not have the experience to make these decisions." Oaxaca state law permits marriage of women at 14 and men at 16.

Mexican officials have long tolerated arranged marriages, Garcia concedes, adding that he doesn't know of any cases of prosecutions. But he says he will also propose to amend a "Treatment of People" law to include an article that makes bride-selling a criminal act. Such action is opposed by many who see indigenous traditions as a virtue of Mexico's cultural diversity.

Sex Slaves: From Mexico to US

11Alive, Atlanta, 7/7/2008

[accessed 23 April 2012]

The female victims were as young as 14-years old. They expected a better life in America only to learn when they got here that they were sex slaves.

An indictment says three of the men -- 31-year old Juan Cortez-Meza, 34-year old Amador Cortez-Meza and 25-year old Francisco Cortez-Meza -- travelled to Mexico to seduce and befriend the females with promises of a better life in America.  "Once they started dating them in Mexico they would get them to come to the US promising them jobs in restaurants or cleaning houses and then when they got here they were forced into prostitution," said Assistant United States Attorney Susan Coppedge.

The indictment says "The victims were beaten, threatened, or their families back in Mexico were threatened in order to force the victims to work as prostitutes against their will."

Human smuggling ring with Fort Pierce ties is back in court

Derek Simmonsen, TCPalm, Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group, St. Lucie County, March 3, 2008

[accessed 20 February 2011]

[accessed 6 February 2018]

The girl was 14 years old when she was approached by a couple in her hometown of Veracruz with an offer to work in their restaurant in America.  After paying about $2,000 to cross the Mexican border, she learned she'd be paying off the debt another way — by becoming a prostitute.

From their home in Veracruz, three brothers, their uncle and other Cadena-Sosa family members recruited women from nearby small towns, often promising them $400 a week (10 times the local salary) in jobs picking fruit, house cleaning or working in restaurants. In a few cases, they even were up front about the prostitution.  After crossing into the United States, the women were told the truth about their work, and those who resisted were raped or beaten, according to court records and interviews with the victims conducted by FSU.  Most of the money they earned went to the family or to pay off smuggling debts. The women also were charged for food, lingerie and forced abortions, making it hard for them to ever completely clear their debts.

RIGHTS-MEXICO: 16,000 Victims of Child Sexual Exploitation

Emilio Godoy, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Mexico City, Aug 13 , 2007

[accessed 20 February 2011]

[accessed 22 September 2016]

International organisations fighting child sex tourism say Mexico is one of the leading hotspots of child sexual exploitation, along with Thailand, Cambodia, India, and Brazil.

Another chilling statistic is that 95 percent of Mexico City’s 13,000 street children have already had at least one sexual encounter with an adult.

Many girls and boys are lured to Mexico City from small towns or rural areas by criminal networks, through false promises of domestic work or other jobs. - htsccp

Mask project combats human trafficking

Sally Kalson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 05, 2006

[accessed 20 February 2011]

[accessed 13 January 2020]

A number of U.S. companies built plants there to take advantage of low-cost Mexican labor after the 1993 passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since then, more than 400 women and girls have been raped and murdered in and around the city of 1.4 million people. Countless more have disappeared, presumably into the underworld of global human trafficking, where they are forced into prostitution or other forms of modern-day slavery.

A new bid to halt toll of human trafficking

Claire Cooper & Christina Jewett, Sacramento Bee, May 20, 2006

[accessed 25 August 2014]

Florencia Molina's sewing teacher in Puebla, Mexico, unwittingly wrote Molina and herself one-way tickets into slavery.  Good jobs, food and housing awaited them in the United States, the teacher said. Molina had three days to decide.  Both women learned after arriving in Los Angeles that the jobs were sewing dresses for 17 hours a day with three 10-minute breaks for beans and rice.

Mexican national pleads guilty to bringing sex slaves to Houston-area bars

Associated Press AP, Houston, January 17, 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

Salvador Fernando Molina Garcia, 37, an illegal immigrant, has pleaded guilty to smuggling girls and young women from Mexico into Houston and forcing them to work as prostitutes in local bars, according to federal officials.

The single count superseding indictment re-alleges that Gerardo Salazar, 40, is the leader of a group of men who smuggled minor girls and young women from Mexico into the United States. Using deception, threats of harm, physical force and psychological coercion, Salazar compelled their service for prostitution in Houston area bars.

Border Breakdown

Paul Streitz, Magic City Morning Star, May 2, 2005

[accessed 20 February 2011]

[accessed 3 May 2020]

After the coyotes get the women across the border, safely on U.S. soil, they gang rape them to show they have total control over them. They hang their panties in the trees as signs of the conquest.  If the women are young and pretty, they are kept in houses of prostitution where they have to have their families buy them out or work their way out. Of course, none will testify to this because the coyotes know where they are from and can seek revenge on their families in Mexico.

U.S. Embassy in Mexico and the Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE) Sign Agreement to Fight Trafficking in Persons

Press Releases 05, U.S. Embassy in Mexico, Mexico City, August 19, 2005

[accessed 20 February 2011]

Under Secretary Gutierrez noted that “these programs are directed towards providing comprehensive attention for victims on our common border, as well as in southern Mexico; fighting sexual tourism involving minors; creating awareness about the risks of trafficking in persons and related crimes; and deepening the exchange of information and intelligence that will allow us dismantle, apprehend and prosecute criminal organizations, while strictly applying the laws of each country.”

UN panel sees grave women's rights abuse in Mexico

Irwin Arieff, Reuters, United Nations, 26 Jan 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

Some 320 women were the victims of unsolved murders in Ciudad Juarez between January 1993 and July 2003. Suggested motives have included drug trafficking, trafficking in organs, trafficking of women for sexual exploitation, domestic violence, sexual violence and the production of violent videotapes.

News Investigation Into The Plight Of Young Women Forced Into Horror Of Prostitution

Nicole Bode, New York Daily News, Apr 02, 2005

[accessed 13 June 2013]

Before the night is over, the girls of "Zona Rosa" - a notorious red-light district just a few blocks from the main tourist drag in this Mexican border town - will make as much as $250 each by selling sex.  It's cold-blooded sexual slavery - forced prostitution that began when they were kidnapped from their small towns in Mexico and Central America and smuggled through a dangerous corridor that leads into the United States.  After they work their apprenticeships in Tijuana, many of the girls end up as sexual servants in New York's illegal brothels.

Task force to prosecute sex-trade, slavery cases

Mark Arner, The San diego Union-Tribune, March 30, 2005

[accessed 20 February 2011]

[accessed 6 February 2018]

Many of the girls and young women had been promised work as maids and were smuggled into San Diego from Mexico and Central America.  However, authorities said they weren't able to build a strong-enough case in the rush to rescue minors, and the charges were dropped.

Three Defendants Plead Guilty To Charges Involving Forcing Young Mexican Women Into Sexual Slavery In New York

Press Release, The U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York, April 05, 2005

[accessed 1 February 2016]

[accessed 18 February 2019]

During the plea allocutions this morning, the defendants Josue Flores Carreto, Geraldo Flores Carreto, and Daniel Perez Alonso, acknowledged that they recruited young, uneducated Mexican women from impoverished backgrounds, smuggled them from Mexico to the United States, and forced them to engage in prostitution. All three defendants admitted to physically assaulting their victims on multiple occasions and causing serious bodily injuries to them. They also admitted to using threats of serious harm and physical restraint against the young Mexican women to force them to commit acts of prostitution, and beating them for hiding money, disobeying their orders, and failing to earn more money. The victims were forced to perform acts of prostitution at a rate of $25 to $35 per "John." Of that amount, the owners and managers of the brothels took half, and the other half was taken by the defendants and other members of the Carreto criminal organization.

Report: Japan sex industry ensnares Latin women

Associated Press AP, Lima Peru, April 29, 2005

[accessed 8 September 2011]

When she arrived she was raped by all three men and sold to a Yakuza organized crime boss, who branded her across the chest with a 6-inch (15-centimeter) rose tattoo. He forced her to provide sexual services to up to 40 clients a day, she said.

Annual Report Of Activities By The Anti-Trafficking In Persons Section Of The Organization Of American States - April 2005 To March 2006 [DOC]

Sixth Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, April 24 to 26, 2006, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

[accessed 25 August 2014]

MEXICO - The Anti-Human Trafficking Workshop for Media and the Entertainment Industry Seminar was held in Mexico in December 2005. This event helped professionals in the entertainment industry focus on the subject of human trafficking and, in particular, the situation of trafficking victims, in order to assist writers and editors in this field to incorporate realistic depictions of this scourge in their story lines. The result of this undertaking was heightened public awareness about the topic and increased prevention. As the entertainment industry more fully comprehends human trafficking and portrays its real nature, the general public will be better informed and persons potentially vulnerable to the crime will be forewarned about the phenomenon.

The meeting “Trafficking of Persons and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors,” organized by the executive committee the Inter-American Network of Parliamentarian Women, was held in the Mexican city of Puebla on March 1, 2006. The OAS Anti-Trafficking in Persons Section was represented by its Projects Director, Fernando García Robles, with his keynote address on “Trafficking in Persons: A Transnational Problem.” The conference brought together parliamentarians of both sexes, national and international nongovernmental organizations, the international community, and civil society in general. The OAS’s presence at this event was of great importance, since the draft Decree Law to Prevent and Punish Trafficking in Persons was then being studied by the Joint Congressional Committees on Justice, Human Rights, and Legislative Studies.

Rescued From Sex Slavery

Rebecca Leung, CBS News, Feb. 23, 2005

[accessed 21 February 2011]

Olga got on the plane with four other Russian girls. In that instant, they became the personal property of an international slave trader. Olga's plane, however, was headed to Mexico. Rashkovsky was planning to smuggle the women across the notoriously unsupervised border between Mexico and the United States. He brought the women to a hotel in Tijuana.

Olga, a consultant to 48 Hours on this report, returned to Mexico to retrace her steps. "It’s just old memories," she says. "The older I get, the more scarier it is to think about, what could happen to me."

Girls like Olga are sometimes put to work in Mexican strip clubs before heading north. But Mexico is more than just a transit country and training ground for Eastern Europeans. In its own right, Mexico is the No. 1 country providing slaves to the United States, accounting for the majority of federal trafficking cases.

Malevolent Bargains: Slavery Continues in the Form of Forced Prostitution

Ed Vitagliano, News Editor, American Family Association AFA Journal, April 15, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

AMERICAN TASTE FOR TRAFFICKED GIRLS - Virtual sex is not the only decadent delicacy for some Americans; the simple fact is that thousands of trafficked women and girls are ferried into the U.S. for the purpose of illicit sexual encounters.

In an article for The Weekly Standard, Hughes wrote about the extent of the sex trafficking industry that shuttles girls through Mexico to brothels outside San Diego, California. "Over a 10-year period, hundreds of girls, 12 to 18 years old," were brought into the U.S. by Mexican nationals.  "The girls were sold to farm workers -- between 100 and 300 at a time -- in small 'caves' made of reeds in the fields. Many of the girls had babies, who were used as hostages with death threats against them, so their mothers would not try to escape," Hughes said.

Mexican Minors Prostituted To Farmworkers Near San Diego

La Frontera News, Tijuana, 13 December 2004

[accessed 21 February 2011]

[accessed 6 February 2018]

Told that they were going to work in US factories or restaurants, these women and others like them from poor Mexican communities were smuggled into the US only to be forced into prostitution, says Venustiano, a farmworker that has befriended some of the women.  He says that the women do not protest how they are treated because they fear deportation or retaliation against their families.  Most of the ten women at the farm in Del Mar are minors although the women vary in age from 14 to 22.

Lead defendant in prostitution ring pleads guilty

U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC, Jan 15, 1999 – Press Release 99-013

[accessed 2 September 2012]

The lead defendant in a forced prostitution case pleaded guilty today to charges that he and fifteen others lured women from Mexico and Florida with promises of good jobs and better lives, only to force them into prostitution and hold them as sexual slaves in brothel houses in Florida and the Carolinas.


University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Clinical & Skills Programs, International Human Rights Law Clinic, Projects & Cases

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

U.S.-MEXICO ANTI-TRAFFICKING WORKING GROUP - In April 2004, the Clinic and the Human Rights Center convened a conference of international anti-trafficking experts to strengthen protections for Mexican victims of human trafficking. Clinic research on forced labor in the United States indicates that hundreds and possibly thousands of Mexican men, women, and children are trafficked into this country each year and forced to work in brothels, agriculture, and sweatshops as modern day slaves. Yet even when victims manage to escape or are rescued, their ordeal is not over. Family members of survivors who prosecute their perpetrators have been intimidated or attacked in home countries. Fear of reprisal against family members in the survivors' home country once perpetrators are released from prison in the United States is an on-going concern to survivors and delays their rehabilitation. Similarly, fear that law enforcement will be unable to protect them or their families discourages many victims from assisting in prosecution of their traffickers.

ACLU Sues Manhattan Hotel Under 'Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act'

Press Release, American Civil Liberties Union ACLU, New York, May 27, 2004

[accessed 21 February 2011]

[accessed 6 February 2018]

The plaintiffs seeking legal relief and damages include: Juana Sierra Trejo, Gabriela Flores Viegas, Ines Bello Castillo, Carmen Calixto Rodriquez and Lucero Santes Vazquez, all of whom are originally from Mexico.  During their employment at the hotel, the women were forced to work seven days per week, for up to 15 continuous hours a day, without breaks. They were denied permission to eat, drink or use the restroom.  They were never paid overtime compensation for their work.

Trafficking Alert - U.S. Edition, March 2004

Vital Voices, March 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

RECENT NOTABLE PROSECUTIONS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INCLUDE - Sentencing of Florida Man on Human Trafficking Charges: On March 2, 2004, Ramiro Ramos was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring to hold migrant farm laborers in involuntary servitude. Ramos was also ordered to forfeit property valued at more than $3 million, and was ordered deported to Mexico. His brother, Juan Ramos, was also convicted on charges of involuntary servitude, and will be sentenced on May 3. The brothers reportedly transported Mexican men and women to Florida and forced them to work until they paid off "transportation debts," and subjected them to threats and beatings.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) and Child Trafficking

Youth Advocate Program International -- Edited by Carol Smolenski, Executive Director ECPAT-USA, & Joanne Selinske, International Social Services (ISS)

[accessed 21 February 2011]

WHERE CSEC IS OCCURRING TODAY? - Child sexual exploitation of children occurs on every continent, except Antarctica, and is most prevalent in countries stricken by poverty, political turmoil, and corruption. In Cambodia , a nation still recovering from the war, famine, and brutal dictatorship of the 1970s and ‘80s, sex tourism thrives. The prostitution of girls as young as 5 years old is prevalent, particularly with many tourists visiting Cambodia with the specific purpose of having sex with prepubescent girls.[5] However, the practice is not limited to developing countries. For example, girls and young women from many countries are trafficked into the United States, often through Mexico, to become sex slaves. Abducted, sold or abandoned by family, or lured by hollow promises of jobs, school, and a better life, girls and women find themselves trapped, earning no money, and living in highly restrictive settings with no personal freedoms.

State ripe for racket in human trafficking

Daniel González, The Arizona Republic, Mar. 30, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

In the past six years, the federal government has prosecuted five slavery rings involving a total of 1,500 immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala, many of whom were recruited in Chandler and Marana, to work in slavelike conditions picking tomatoes and citrus on farms in south Florida, according to Lucas Benitez, co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers based in Immokalee, Fla.

In some cases, the workers were held against their will by armed guards and paid $40 to $50 a week after their wages were garnisheed for housing, food and transportation from Arizona to Florida, Benitez said.

Dying to Leave

Thirteen, New York Public Media, September 25th, 2003

[accessed 21 February 2011]

VICTIMS - Migrants from Central America or residents of the Mexican highlands hoping to get work on farms or construction sites in the U.S. come to Mexico’s border towns in droves. Brought into the U.S. by “coyotes,” or smugglers, those that survive the crossing often find themselves at the mercy of a handler who delivers them to their ultimate work site. Unable to pay for transportation or food, upon arrival a work foreman allegedly pays for these services for them. Not speaking English (or, often, Spanish, in the case of victims from Mexico’s native population), they have little choice but to work off their so-called “debts” at the work boss’s bidding. Such practices have long been the focus of immigration officials in southern California and the border areas of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, but South Florida is also “ground zero for modern slavery,” a U.S. Justice Department official told THE NEW YORKER. Successful prosecutions remain few: In the past six years, six cases have been successfully prosecuted.

Nor do children escape from Mexico’s trafficking rings. As of 2001, according to UNICEF and the Mexican National System for Integration of the Family, an estimated 16,000 children were used for sexual exploitation within Mexico. Hondurans, Guatemalans, and El Salvadorans were also among those at work in the sex industry. Promising well-paying jobs, traffickers sell children to bar owners or to other traffickers, who then use the meals and lodging provided as a so-called debt that must be repaid. Some children are trained to operate in tourist centers such as Acapulco, Cancun, or Guadalajara. Others head to large border cities like Tijuana, Baja California, or Ciudad Juarez.

Some foreign household workers enslaved

Stephanie Armour, USA Today, 11/21/2001

[accessed 21 February 2011]

AMONG RECENT CASES - • In a middle-class subdivision of Laredo, Texas, known for brick homes and manicured yards, a 12-year-old Mexican girl sent by her family to clean and provide childcare in exchange for schooling was found shackled in a backyard, according to prosecutors. Police were summoned after a neighbor doing roof work looked down, saw the girl and called 911.

The girl had been chained after finishing her work, starved until she became so hungry she ate dirt and tortured by having pepper spray blasted into her eyes when she dozed off, prosecutors say. She was so weak, she had to be carried on a stretcher, prosecutors say, and her skin had been seared red from days in the sun.

U.S., Canadian and Mexican Representatives Meet to Combat Sexual Exploitation

Penn News, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, November 28, 2001

[accessed 21 February 2011]

[accessed 3 May 2020]

New information from the study reveals that more than 16,000 children in Mexico are engaged in prostitution in just seven Mexican cities. Many of these children are victims of national and intra-regional trafficking from poorer countries located in Central and south America, including Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala.

"In many cases the intended destination of these children is the U.S.," Estes said, "but, owing to the more relaxed law enforcement practices toward sexual predators in Mexico, many traffickers find they can make substantial profit by exploiting the children through pornography or prostitution in Mexico City or in Mexican resort communities frequented by Mexicans and foreigners."

Agenda Item 9: The human rights situation in Mexico

UN Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-fifth session, Palais des Nations, Geneva, 22 March 1999

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

The human rights situation in Mexico continues to deteriorate. Different United Nations’ bodies specialized in the protection of human rights , as well as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States , have confirmed this worrisome trend. Mexico occupies first place for reports of deaths during detention received by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and third place for cases of disappearances presented before the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, according to their most recent reports. Similarly, the 1998 report issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) stated that the practice of illegal detention in Mexico constitutes a serious situation of human rights violations due to its systematic character. Likewise, the Committee Against Torture concluded in 1997, that torture is systematically practiced in Mexico, especially by judicial police, and more recently, by members of the Armed Forces under the pretext of combating subversive groups and drug-trafficking. The Special Rapporteur on Torture confirmed that torture is frequent throughout much of the country.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, , 8 October 1999

[accessed 20 February 2011]

[32] While the Committee is aware of the measures taken by the State party on the situation of repatriated children (menores fronterizos), it remains particularly concerned that a great number of these children are victims of trafficking networks, which use them for sexual or economic exploitation. Concern is also expressed about the increasing number of cases of trafficking and sale of children from neighboring countries who are brought into the State party to work in prostitution.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 21 February 2011]


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 3   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

20018 Edition

[accessed 3 May 2020]


Mexico is a major source, transit, and destination country for trafficking in persons, including women and children, many of whom are subject to forced labor and sexual exploitation. Organized criminal gangs are heavily involved in human trafficking in Mexico and into the United States. Government corruption is a significant concern as many officials are bribed by or aide traffickers.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – CISEN reported that trafficking is usually only one element of organized criminal gang activities. Transnational and domestic organized criminal networks and gangs were the primary perpetrators of trafficking in persons. Many illegal immigrants fell prey to traffickers along the Guatemalan border, where the growing presence of gangs such as Mara Salvatruchas and Barrio 18 made the area especially dangerous for unaccompanied women and children migrating north, whose numbers continued to increase.

Most victims of trafficking were poor and uneducated. Trafficking victims often related that they were promised a good job, but once isolated from family and home, were forced into prostitution or to work in a factory or the agriculture sector. Other young female migrants recounted being robbed, beaten, and raped by members of criminal gangs and then forced to work in table dance bars or as prostitutes under threat of further harm to them or their families.

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