Sex traffickers in Mexico have reportedly begun using underage girls to recruit other minors for sexual exploitation, reflecting a broader trend of the increasing use of children by organized crime.
Men running sex trafficking rings are forcing their victims to gain the trust of other girls in order to imprison them, reported El Universal. In one case cited, the "padrote" (pimp) brought the chosen victim with him to various parts of the country, luring vulnerable young women into working with him in the capital and other Mexican cities with promises of a better life.
The victims not only act as recruiters -- they also have to train the new recruits before they are brought back to the capital, teaching them sex positions, how much to charge clients, and how to convince police they are working of their own volition. They also take the blame if a girl escapes.
According to Rosi Orozco, a former congresswoman and head of the United Anti-Trafficking Commission, the recruiters are motivated by fear and threats. Orozco gave the example of one 16 year old who recruited a girl two years younger than herself because her baby was being held by the traffickers.
InSight Crime Analysis
Recruitment is just the first stage in the chain of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Girls are later prepared for sale, and then usually picked up from the recruiters by "brokers" and distributed to escort agencies, brothels, pimps and sex trade rings either domestically or internationally.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Human Trafficking
Sex trafficking is a major problem in Mexico -- Orozco said in 2012 that the country saw some 820,000 adults and children trafficked for sexual exploitation each year. According to one regional NGO, 70 percent of cases the organization sees in Mexico are linked to drug gangs, which made $10 billion off the trade in 2012.
Luring young women and other vulnerable sectors of the population with false promises of wealth and other luxuries is a common tactic for human traffickers throughout the region. As victims of sex traffickers in Mexico continue to get younger, and drug trafficking groups get more deeply involved in the trade, it is not surprising that the girls are being forced to help with this process.
As noted by Orozco, drug traffickers and arms traffickers also commonly use victims, and particularly young children, for illegal acts. They are often less likely to be apprehended by police and if they are, they will be tried as minors and not face the same penalties. In the case of sex trafficking, they are also more likely to gain the trust of other potential victims -- a critical aspect of the recruitment process.