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
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
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.
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