An Inhumane Trade: human trafficking

“As the fight against human trafficking becomes more normalized, I think the lay understanding of it stops being ‘over there’ and people understand how it happens in their own backyard,” said U.S. State Department ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who oversees the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

One of the more infamous streets for prostitution is Sullivan Street near the center of Mexico City where police constantly drive quickly past the cars moving slowly along the sidewalk checking out the young girls waiting for business.

In a Mexican village some 1,800 miles from San Diego, girls and young women are coerced, threatened and forced into a life of prostitution. It is where pimps use the town’s annual Carnival to show off their chicas, luxury vehicles and wealth that builds mansions with distinctive architecture to impress and then lock away victims.

Tenancingo is the beginning of a pipeline in an illicit, international trafficking trade where San Diego is a key nexus. This village and others in the state of Tlaxcala generate as much as 80 percent of all Mexican sex traffickers.

The perpetrators include multigenerational families, town officials, neighborhood gossips and lookouts.

Their business scheme is emblematic of systems from Asia to South America, from Eastern Europe to the United States, that profit from the slave labor of men and women. The victims toil in fields, build homes, do housework, beg on streets and work in brothels for little or no compensation.

The spotlight on their plight has grown during the past decade. The United States, Mexico and other countries have passed new laws, advocacy groups have formed to help victims and law-enforcement officials are trying to pursue more of these cases. Successful prosecutions have occurred in San Diego, New York City, Miami and Atlanta.


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