Convicted U.S.-Mexico sex traffickers face possible life in prison

by Christine Murray | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 16 March 2020 23:21 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: A dancer's stiletto heels are shown on the floor at club in New York June 15, 2005. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton SS/JRB

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The five men lured Mexican girls and women to the United States with promises of love and marriage but then forced them into sex work

By Christine Murray

MEXICO CITY, March 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Five men face the possibility of life in prison after being convicted of sex trafficking, luring Mexican girls and women to the United States with promises of love but forcing them into abusive sex work, authorities said.

The five men, all family members, were convicted in federal court in New York on Friday, the Justice Department said.

Mexico is a known origin, transit and destination country for human trafficking, and victims range from indigenous women in domestic work under slave-like conditions to men forced to harvest drugs for organized crime.

For more than a decade beginning in 2006, the men convicted in New York brought women and girls to the Mexican town of Tenancingo in Tlaxcala state with promises of love and marriage, Justice Department authorities said.

The girls and women then were taken to the United States, forced into sex work and subject to beatings, threats and forced abortions, the statement said.

Put to work in the New York area, they were forced to have sex with up to 20 men during shifts of six or seven hours, the authorities said.

One victim testified that she was forced into prostitution at age 14, and that the men beat her if she refused to work, the statement said.

In the statement, Richard Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, called the crimes "horrific."

The federal jury found the five men guilty of a range of crimes including sex trafficking conspiracy, interstate prostitution, alien smuggling and money laundering conspiracy.

They each face a possible sentence of life in prison.

The small state of Tlaxcala has become notorious for sex trafficking after more than a decade of high profile cases for extradition to the United States. 

In 2019, more than half of state-level trafficking cases were opened in just three of Mexico's 32 states, raising concerns about the capacity and willingness of law enforcement to tackle human trafficking across the country.

(Reporting by Christine Murray; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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