Mex­i­can po­lice in­ves­ti­gate traf­fick­ing along US bor­der

Gulf Times - - LATIN AMERICA -

Po­lice in Mex­ico have ar­rested a woman sus­pected of run­ning a sex traf­fick­ing op­er­a­tion along the US bor­der that may be linked to the dis­ap­pear­ance of sev­eral nurs­ing stu­dents ear­lier this year, au­thor­i­ties say.

Clau­dia Palmira is ac­cused of co­erc­ing a teenage girl and a young woman into per­form­ing sex­ual acts in ex­change for money and traf­fick­ing them across state lines, ac­cord­ing to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice in the Mex­i­can state of Chi­huahua.

The case high­lights the preva­lence of traf­fick­ing in Mex­ico, where an es­ti­mated 341,000 peo­ple live in mod­ern slav­ery, ac­cord­ing to the 2018 Global Slav­ery In­dex pub­lished by the hu­man rights group Walk Free Foun­da­tion.

Fig­ures from the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice show more than four out of five hu­man traf­fick­ing cases in Mex­ico in­volve sex­ual ex­ploita­tion. “It’s an in­creas­ingly se­ri­ous prob­lem,” said Alfredo Li­mas Hernán­dez, co-direc­tor of the Ob­ser­va­tory of So­cial and Gen­der Vi­o­lence at Chi­huahua’s Au­ton­o­mous Univer­sity of Ci­u­dad Juárez.

“The re­gion has be­come a space where traf­fick­ing, sex­ual ex­ploita­tion and dis­ap­pear­ances are a grow­ing re­al­ity,” he told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Hernán­dez, many women who be­come vic­tims of sex traf­fick­ing are first re­ported as miss­ing and later turn up dead.

Gov­ern­ment fig­ures show that as of April, more than 9,000 women are re­ported miss­ing across Mex­ico. More than 2,000 men and women are miss­ing from the bor­der state of Chi­huahua.

Jes­sica Ren­tería, spokes­woman for the pros­e­cu­tor in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Palmira case, said au­thor­i­ties dis­cov­ered the sus­pected traf­fick­ing op­er­a­tion af­ter look­ing into the dis­ap­pear­ance of three nurses who lived to­gether in the town of Per­ral.

Mex­i­can me­dia has re­ported that Palmira al­legedly used on­line so­cial net­works to pro­mote a “cat­a­logue” of women for po­ten­tial clients.

The pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said the authen­tic­ity of the cat­a­loguer has not been ver­i­fied but said so­cial net­works have been used in hu­man traf­fick­ing in Chi­huahua.

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