Indigenous & Latina Women & Children's Human Rights News from the Americas 


Latin America
Women & Children at Risk
Title:  Girls Without Windows II - The Traffickign Routes of the Lenones
Publisher:  (c) 2006 CIMAC Noticias - Mexico City
Publish Date:  2006-04-10

Tlaxcala, La Merced, Tijuana, New York or Los Angeles… the final destination for trafficking victims of the Lenones mafia can be a diverse as the trafficking networks used by “Los Lenones” [the Lenon Family child sex trafficking mafia].

The Lenones mafia operates from the heart of Mexico.  They traffic in children for sale into the commercial sexual exploitation trade.  They use techniques ranging from entrapping girls in fake marriages to abduction, rape and violent threats.

A young victim of commercial sexual exploitation from San Pablo del Monte in Tlaxcala state…

“I was 16-years-old when I met him… I ran away with him.  At first, he was nice.  After a while, he began to bee very aggressive with me.  He said that he owned money and he wanted me to help him pay his debt, and that, after he paid his debt, he would stop prostituting me.

Threats and brutal beatings convinced this young woman to give in to the demands of her husband, one of many padrotes or ‘calichas’ (big daddys, pimps) who operate in Tlaxcala, and recruit underage girls and later demand that they engage in prostitution.

The Postgraduate Studies Division of the Sociology Department of Tlaxcala State University has published a study, “Diagnosing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tlaxcala.”  The study indicates that the Lenon mafia’s men use romance and marriage as one of their most common methods of subtly convincing victims to work in prostitution.  When ‘romantic bait’ doesn’t work, the traffickers resort to kidnapping, rape and blackmail, including holding the victim’s child(ren) hostage to force them into prostitution.

The study, which was funded by the Tlaxcala state social service agency (DIF), and other studies indicate that the southern part of Tlaxcala state, including the towns of Tenancingo, Papalotla, and San Pablo del Monte, are major centers for child sex trafficking networks.

The study interviewed 110 victims, as well as teachers, cabdrivers, and bar owners.

Although most victims are between 14 and 17-years-old, the study notes that a large number of children younger than 14 are also involved.

The study indicates that two major forms of exploitation exist.  First, girls from Tlaxcala, most of whom are underage, are trafficked to the state of Puebla, to the city of Tijuana and other parts of Baja California Norte state [a major U.S. tourist resort destination], to the “La Merced” prostitution zone in Mexico City, and also overseas, including to New York City.

Second, Central American refugee youth trapped in Mexico are brought to Tlaxcala.  The majority are between 15 and 17-years-of-age.

These criminal networks, according to the study, they operate with the protection of the authorities, as the discovered case in 2004 in Chiautempan, where the mayor and other municipal officials received money to permit the operation of brothels.   

René Elizalde, coordinator of the study, explained that the residents of the region have begun to see these practices as “normal,” owed, mainly, to the fact that child sexual exploitation is not criminalized by local legislation.  Cultural practices also look down on the concept of denouncing criminals to the authorities.

- María de la Luz González

April 10, 2006