A Mexican task force for crimes against women is investigating the whereabouts of some 525 women and female adolescents in the country, many of whom are thought to be victims of sex trafficking rings.
In an interview with El Universal, Special Prosecutor for Violent Crimes against Women (Fiscalia Especial para los Delitos de Violencia contra las Mujeres y Trata de Personas - FEVIMTRA) Sara Irene Herreiras Guerra told the paper that her office has become swamped with cases of missing women and teens in recent years.
Since FEVIMTRA’s creation in February 2008 there have been more than 1,500 such cases of missing females, of which 490 have been located and returned to their families. Nearly 300 of the cases occurred in the past 18 months. But while the office is currently working to find 525 women, many of whom are minors, another 500 cases have resulted in dead ends.
As InSight Crime has pointed out on several occasions, increased crackdowns on drug trafficking has forced Mexico’s drug gangs to broaden their criminal portfolios, and many are now attempting to seek profits from the lucrative, relatively low-risk prostitution trade.
This phenomenon has been aided by the rise of social media, which Mexico’s gangs use to lure young women into abandoning their homes and families. According to Herreira Guerra, at least 80 percent of Mexico’s missing women are targeted in this fashion.
Although Mexico passed a law targeting human and sex trafficking in 2007, convictions have been rare, and women’s rights advocates frequently complain that the authorities overlook these crimes, focusing instead on the drug trade.