HomeNewsAnalysisThe Ongoing Trafficking and Killing of Venezuelan Women in Mexico
ANALYSIS

The Ongoing Trafficking and Killing of Venezuelan Women in Mexico

GENDER AND CRIME / 16 JUN 2020 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

The rescue of three Venezuelans forced into sex trafficking in Mexico City has once again shone a spotlight on the ongoing violent treatment and deaths of Venezuelan migrants in the country.

In May, the three women were found in the neighborhood of San Pedro de los Pinos, after a friend reported the case to the police. According to Mexican newspaper Milenio, the women arrived in Mexico in January. They had their passports and visas retained by the traffickers until they had paid off the cost of their journey through sexual exploitation. Their services were then offered online.

In 2019, a report by Venezuelan news portal Armando Info presented an alarming statistic. Since 2012, 60 percent of all Venezuelan sexual workers killed abroad were in Mexico. And these murders are continuing to increase, having risen by 200 percent since 2017.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Gender and Organized Crime

While human trafficking linked to sexual exploitation has long been a major concern in Mexico, the prevalence of Venezuelan women has soared since their country entered a crippling economic crisis, causing millions to flee overseas.

Most of these women are recruited in Venezuela, then travel to Colombia and on to Mexico, usually lured under false promises of work. Corruption facilitates their entry, with El Universal reporting in 2018 that migration officials at Mexico City's international airport received between 14,000 and 19,000 pesos (between around $712 and $967) to let women enter the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

While there are no reliable estimates about the number of women forced into sexual exploitation in Mexico, the country's track record for protecting its own citizens is woeful, let alone foreign nationals.

The most infamous case involving Venezuelan women illustrates just how vulnerable they are. Zona Divas was reportedly Mexico's most successful "escorts" website for close to 20 years before being shut down in 2018. Much of its success was built on the sexual exploitation of Venezuelan women but it did nothing to protect them. In 2017 and 2018, eight Venezuelan women featured on Zona Divas were killed in Mexico, a joint investigation by Mexican and Venezuelan media revealed.

And their exploitation may involve some of Mexico's principal criminal actors. A report by Nexos found alleged links between the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación - CJNG) and the trafficking of Venezuelan women. Smaller groups such as the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel and the Unión de Tepito have also been linked to sexual trafficking.

SEE ALSO: How Venezuela Shipwrecks Revealed Sexual Trafficking Ring

In Mexico City alone, reports of sexual trafficking increased by 87 percent from 2018 to 2019, according to the Ministry of Public Security. But this rise in reported cases has made no difference to actual prosecutions and convictions.

"The problem is that the data from reported cases does not tell us much, as this is a crime with multiple causes. This doesn't tell us if [Mexico City] is the place of origin, of transit or the destination [for the women]. This is not reflected in the statistics from the ministry," said Teresa Ulloa, director of the Coalition Against the Trafficking of Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean (Coalición contra el Tráfico de Mujeres y Niñas en América Latina y el Caribe -- CATWLAC), in an interview with online portal Cuestione.

And impunity remains sky-high. "Most of the victims of human trafficking do not speak up. We calculate that 90 percent [remain silent] while 99 percent of these crimes ... are never punished," explained Ulloa.

Venezuelan women, having entered the country on false papers and with little to no support networks, are even less likely to do so.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EXTORTION / 17 JUN 2022

Buying fresh chicken in the Mexican city of Chilpancingo proved almost impossible this week. Almost all the chicken vendors had…

BOLIVIA / 8 NOV 2022

The Amazon is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, where wildlife trafficking threatens hundreds of thousands of species.

CHAPITOS / 23 AUG 2021

Lacking government support and effective oversight, drug rehab centers in Mexico are being exploited by organized crime groups, which are…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…