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Added: Dec. 31, 2009


PGJDF Ejerce Acción Penal en Contra de 13 Hombres y 2 Mujeres, Por Su Presunta Responsabilidad de Corrupción de Menores, Lenocinio, Trata de Personas y Delincuencia Organizada

México-DF - La Procuraduría General de Justicia del Distrito Federal (PGJDF) ejercitó acción penal en contra de 15 presuntos integrantes de una red de trata de personas y explotación sexual que operaba en diferentes hoteles de la delegación Cuauhtémoc…

Mexico City Prosecutes 13 men and 2 Women for Operating a Child Prostitution Network

Mexico City – The office of the Attorney General of Justice for Mexico City (PGJDF) has decided to prosecute 15 presumed members of a sex trafficking network that operated in a number of hotels in the Cuauhtémoc borough of Mexico City.

The accused are charged with corruption of minors, pimping, human trafficking and organized delinquency.

The PGJDF stated that Guadalupe Hernandez Sanchez, alias ‘Mother Lupe,’ and David Martinez Monterrubio, alias ’La Tosca,' have been identified as the leaders of the Child prostitution network…

Noticieros Televisa

Dec. 29, 2009

Added: Dec. 31, 2009

Texas, USA

Human Trafficking in Houston, Texas: Part One

The modern-day slave trade - known as human trafficking - rivals weapons smuggling as the most lucrative illegal business after drug trafficking. One of the largest hubs for modern-day slavery in the United States is Houston, Texas. The southern city is home to a large seaport, a sprawling international airport, and is a major destination along Interstate 10 - identified by the Department of Justice as one of the main human trafficking routes in the United States. In the first of a two-part series on human trafficking, FSRN's Shannon Young files this report on transnational slavery in Houston...

Houston's size, proximity to the border, and extensive transportation infrastructure are all factors that make the city attractive for organized crime networks – including human traffickers....

...Ed Gallagher is the co-chair of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance, a multi-agency task force covering the southern district of Texas.

Ed Gallagher: "We experience a large influx of immigrants coming across our border illegally into the United States trying to look for work and most of these cases are NOT human trafficking, but many of them become human trafficking. And we have to distinguish between someone who is being smuggled into the United States just to find work and someone who's being smuggled into the United States, promised a job, and they end up being turned into a prostitute or they're forced to work to pay off a smuggling debt; that's when we get into trafficking.” ...

The level of collaboration between social service providers, non-governmental organizations and law enforcement has earned the Houston-based task force national recognition. Task force co-chair Ed Gallagher likens the early days of the alliance to an uneven bridge that does not meet in the middle.

Ed Gallagher: "Law enforcement stands on the upper side of the bridge, looking down at the NGOs who are looking up at law enforcement and there's a great degree of mistrust between the two. That's something that is natural when you start a task force. We have overcome that. Our bridge now is smoothly together and we work side by side with our social service partners so that when we have a case coming down the pike, we have them on standby, we have them ready in the event that we have a case like US vs. Mondragon, over 100 women rescued, being forced into labor in a number of these local cantinas and bars in the Houston area following our 2005 raid."

US vs. Mondragon is the largest human trafficking case in the history of the continental United States. Another large Houston-based case, US vs. Salazar, followed shortly thereafter...

A national hotline has been set up to receive questions and tips about suspected human trafficking cases. The toll-free number is 1-888-3737-888. A third of the calls to the hotline come from the state of Texas. That's a testament both to the awareness efforts of local abolitionists – and to the size of the problem.

[Link includes audio report.]

Shannon Young


Dec. 28, 2009

Added: Dec. 31, 2009

Texas, USA

Human Trafficking in Houston, Texas: Part Two

No one knows just how many victims of human trafficking exist in the United States, but government estimates show the overwhelming majority are US citizens. Stereotypes, stigma, and misunderstanding often cause their victim status to be mis-categorized as criminal behavior. Most trafficked US citizens are found in the sex industry and they are often under the age of 18.

Rachel Lloyd is the Director of GEMS, a New York based survivor-led program for sexually exploited youth.

Rachel Lloyd: "The reality that I see in my work every day is children that are victimized again by systems. Not just by the individual primary abusers, but by the systems that they reach out to, whether that's law enforcement, prosecutors, even service providers often who don't perceive them as fitting into a nice little victim box." ...

Kathryn Griffin-Townsend runs a program in Houston called “We've Been There, Done That” to help rehabilitate women who have lived through sex trafficking, prostitution, and associated drug addiction…

Teenage runaways have a particularly high risk of falling prey to sex traffickers. Many runaways are escaping abusive situations at home...but once they're out on the streets, find it near impossible to secure shelter and work. Pimps often recruit girls by providing a mixture of security, affection, and generosity prior to commercializing their victims…

Coercing someone into selling sex and then using brute force to take that person's pay meets the legal criteria for a trafficking case, but pressing charges can be difficult due to the emotional bond that's often present between a prostituted woman and her pimp. Researchers compare this bond to that of a battered woman and her abuser.

But prosecutors don't need to prove the elements of force, fraud, or coercion when the victim is under 18 years of age. Ed Gallagher from the office of the US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas says, despite the tougher penalties, police often find minors when they bust prostitution rings...

...Maria Trujillo is the Executive Director of the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition:

Maria Trujillo: "A lot of these victims come out of their situations with the clothes on their backs and that's it. And they have a lot of trauma and things to deal with and they're a very special case and they can't just be put into a homeless shelter or a domestic violence shelter. They need more than just the services that are available there."

And what about teen runaways? Calls placed to multiple Houston shelters could not find a single one that provides bed space to unaccompanied minors on a walk-in basis. Young runaways have the choice between sleeping at a friend's house or in the street, going to child protective services, getting put into the juvenile detention system...or taking up the offer of shelter from a stranger who may become their sex trafficker.

[Link includes audio report.]

Shannon Young


Dec. 29, 2009

Added: Dec. 31, 2009

California, USA

Martin Roland Morales and Crystal Pauline Rodriguez

Couple Wanted in Torture of 5 Year Old Boy

Martin Roland Morales is sought in connection with case of horrific child abuse.

Apple Valley - Authorities are searching for two suspects accused of physically, mentally and sexually torturing a 5-year old boy over a five month period.

$1 million arrest warrants have been issued for Martin Roland Morales (aka "Bullet"), 32, and Crystal Pauline Rodriguez, 28, who disappeared after they were contacted by authorities investigating reports of child abuse, according to San Bernardino County Sheriff's spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire. Authorities believe the couple may be in Los Angeles County.

The boy's mother and a 16 year old roommate were arrested in August after an anonymous tip was called in to the county's child abuse hotline.

Sheriff's deputies say the boy was burned with heated spoons and a glue gun, as well as deprived of food and water. The child was also sexually molested by Morales and other Males at an Apple Valley residence where Morales and Rodriguez were living, investigators say. He has been placed in foster care.

Morales is an Eastlake Gang member, deputies said, and gave his brother's name during the initial investigation to avoid arrest.

He told investigators he would "shoot it out" with law enforcement if they tried to arrest him, and is considered armed and dangerous.

Morales is described as a Hispanic male about 5'11" and 280 pounds. He has tattoos of his daughters' names on the left and ride side of his head and praying hands on the back of his head.

Rodriguez is a Hispanic female about 5'01" and 130 pounds.

Anyone with information regarding the suspects was asked to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department at (909) 709-7103 or (951) 318-3786.

KTLA-TV, Los Angeles

Dec. 22, 2009

Added: Dec. 31, 2009

Texas, USA

'Bishop' Anthony Martinez Garduno

Bishop Arrested for Child Molestation, Selling Drugs

Home Gardens, Riverside County - A self-proclaimed bishop is under arrest, accused of molesting young boys and selling drugs from inside his church, according to authorities.

Bishop Anthony Martinez Garduno, 51, was arrested Tuesday at the Our Lady of Tepeyac Church on Magnolia Avenue after a parishioner contacted authorities claiming he was molested by Garduno, according to Riverside County Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez.

The victim, an adult male, reported being sexually assaulted by the bishop when he was 17. He also told authorities that he knew of many other sexual assaults on young boys at the church and said Bishop Garduno was also selling drugs, Sgt. Gutierrez said.

Investigators from the Jurupa Valley Station conducted a search warrant at the church on December 29th and located evidence of a drug operation, including the sale of methamphetamines. They also located evidence of possible sexual assaults having occurred at the church, Gutierrez said.

Garduno was booked on child molestation and drug charges. He is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center.

Sgt. Gutierrez said investigators believe many of the victims did not come forward because most of the families who belong to the church only speak Spanish...

Anyone with information or anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault at the location is asked to contact Investigator Birmingham or Investigator Pluimer at the Jurupa Valley Investigations Bureau at 951-955-2600.

KTLA-TV, Los Angeles

Dec. 31, 2009

Added: Dec. 31, 2009

New Jersey, USA

Trenton Man Sentenced For Role In Parsippany Sexual Assault

Parsippany - A Trenton man, who was arrested as a fugitive in a Parsippany rape case then exonerated by DNA evidence, was sentenced today to 110 days in jail for helping a suspect in the case - his brother - avoid capture, authorities said.

When Kendal Franco-Vargas, 29, was arrested Sept. 3 in connection with the rapes of two girls in May 2001, police thought he was John Fernando Cordon, one of the two suspects, authorities said.

Franco-Vargas was later cleared of the rape through DNA testing, but pleaded guilty Dec. 14 to hindering the prosecution of Cordon and wrongful impersonation of another man the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office said.

According to authorities, two girls, ages 16 and 17, told police they were attacked on May 12 and 13 in 2001, by two Dover men, whom they knew as acquaintances.

Arrest warrants were issued for Cordon, now 32, and Ruben Hector Vargas, now 38. The men were indicted in late 2001, but vanished.

On Sept. 3, authorities said a man they believed to be Cordon had been arrested in Trenton. However, authorities later determined the man was not Cordon, but rather Franco-Vargas.

"A comparison of DNA from the arrested individual and the DNA evidence which was collected at the time of the 2001 sexual assault ... exonerated the individual in custody who was believed to be John Fernando Cordon," said Jeffrey Paul, a spokesman for the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office. "The investigation revealed that Kendal G. Franco-Vargas is the brother of John Fernando Cordon." …

A suspected illegal alien from Guatemala, Franco-Vargas is being released to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement that has placed a deportation detainer on him, authorities said.

Both Cordon and Ruben Hector Vargas remain at large, authorities said.


The Star-Ledger

Dec. 21, 2009

Added: Dec. 30, 2009

California, USA

Month Long SF Anti Human-Trafficking Campaign to happen January 11th

San Francisco - On January 11, 2010 The [San Francisco] Human Rights Commission will launch “San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking” ("SFCAHT") campaign that will run until February 12th 2010.

According to an San Francisco Gate story published in 2006, San Francisco has become one of the largest financial centers for human trafficking, and furthermore human trafficking has grown into an 8 billion dollar international business. Mayor Gavin Newsom is quoted as saying "It makes me sick to my stomach.” “Girls are being forced to come to this country their families back home are threatened and they are being raped repeatedly over and over." ...

The "SFCAHT" commitment is to end human trafficking through resource collaboration, community education, outreach, advocacy, and supporting survivors of human trafficking. The agency is taking a “zero tolerance” stance on exploitation, violence, and human trafficking...

Keith Dixon

The Examiner

Dec. 29, 2009

Added: Dec. 30, 2009

Tennessee, USA

Another Sentencing in Memphis Sex Trafficking Ring

Washington - The Justice Department says another person has been sentenced in a sex trafficking ring in Memphis.

Cristina Andres Perfecto was sentenced in federal court this week to 190 months in prison for sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, sex trafficking of a juvenile and conspiracy.

Perfecto's co-defendant, Juan Mendez, was sentenced to 50 years in prison last June after pleading guilty to child sex trafficking and sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.

Perfecto and Mendez each admitted to fraudulently luring two young girls, including a 13-year-old, from rural Mexico to Tennessee with the intent of forcing them into prostitution.

Nine other defendants have pleaded guilty in the same case for child sex trafficking and other crimes.

The Associated Press

Dec 24, 2009

Added: Dec. 30, 2009

Florida, USA

Carlos Urbano Teran-Ponce

Man Charged with Christmas Rape of 13-year-old Girl

Kissimmee - Carlos Urbano Teran-Ponce is being held without bail on charges of raping a friend's teenage daughter early Christmas morning, the Osceola County Sheriff's Office said.

Caught in the act in the 13-year-old's bedroom, Teran-Ponce tried to flee about 4 a.m., but the child's mother called 911 and used her car to block his pickup until deputies arrived, an arrest report stated.

"Once inside, they [the deputies] found the victim … curled on the living room floor crying," the report stated.

The teen later told detectives that Teran-Ponce, a window tinter from Mexico, gave her several sips of tequila in a mixed drink before she went to bed. She also told detectives that Teran-Ponce, 34, previously had molested her at least 20 times, the report stated.

Teran-Ponce "provided a full detailed confession on each count," the report stated. He was charged with nine counts of sexual battery on a child and 21 counts of lewd and lascivious molestation, the report stated. If convicted of sexual battery, he faces life in prison, according to Florida statutes...

The Orlando Sentinel

Dec. 28, 2009

Added: Dec. 27, 2009


Colombia Interior and Justice minister Fabio Valencia Cossio    

Presentan campaña contra la trata de personas en Colombia

Bogotá - Colombia.- (EFE) El Gobierno de Colombia lanzó hoy una nueva campaña contra la trata de personas, que tendrá cubrimiento en todo el país y va dirigida a personas entre 12 y 35 años, de los estratos del 1 al 4, las poblaciones expuestas al mayor riesgo. El Ministerio del Interior y de Justicia de Colombia, la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM) y la Unión Europa presentaron la iniciativa llamada "Con Trata de personas no hay trato"...

Colombia Announces Campaign Against Human Trafficking

Bogota - The Government of Colombia has announced a new campaign today against human slavery, which will target the entire nation and be directed to people between 12 and 35 years-of-age. This age group represents the population at greatest risk.

The program has been organized by the Justice and Interior ministries of Colombia, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the European Union. The campaign is called, “Don’t Engage With Human Trafficking."

Through a press release, the minister of the Interior and Justice, Fabio Valencia Cossio, said that “the problem of human trafficking is world-wide." He noted that in Colombia, trafficking affects all sectors of society. Valencia Cossio: “We will present dramatic testimonies that show the manner in which many people fall victim to traffickers through the use of lies and tricks." He added that the campaign will distribute educational materials about prevention relating to four aspects of human trafficking: sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, begging rings and servile (arranged) marriage.

The advertising strategy of prevention counts on the support of Colombia's Inter-institutional Committee for the Fight  Against Human Trafficking and private sector [media] organizations such as Caracol Social, RCN Radio, Transpot and EUCOL.


Dec. 11, 2009

LibertadLatina Note

After the Dominican Republic, Colombia has the highest number of women and girls being kidnapped and cajoled into overseas sexual slavery among all Latin American nations. In recent years, anti-trafficking organizations have put the number of women and girls being trafficked out of the country at 35,000 per year. The Japanese Yakuza mafias have been trafficking women and girls from Colombia into Japanese prostitution since the 1980s.

Among the non-governmental organizations that are doing important work to fight sex trafficking in Colombia is the Hope Foundation (Fundación Esperanza).

Significant Fundación Esperanza publications (in Spanish) include:

Memorias - Primer Encuentro Nacional sobre Tráfico de Personas en Colombia - 2001

Memories - The First National Encounter on Human Trafficking in Colombia - 2001

Metamorfosis de la Esclavitud Manual Juridico Sobre Trata de Personas (PDF)

Metamorphosis of Slavery: A Judicial Manual on Human Trafficking - 143 pages

Trafico de Personas en Colombia Naufragio de Sueños (PDF)

Human Trafficking, a Shipwreck of Dreams - 142 pages

Trafico Internacional de Mujeres Colombianas Analisis del Tratamiento Periodistico (PDF)

The International Trafficking of Colombian Women; An Analysis of Treatment in the Press - 199 pages

See also:

LibertadLatina Special Sections

About the sexual exploitation with impunity of women and children in Colombia

Added: Dec. 26, 2009

Latin America and the Caribbean

Human Trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean

Human trafficking is a growing problem in Latin America and the Caribbean. IOM [The United Nations' International Organization for Migration] has estimated that sex trafficking in Latin America now generates some $16 billion worth of business annually. Internal trafficking for forced and child labor is widespread in many countries in the region...

Factors that Contribute to Human Trafficking in the Region

Both individual factors and outside circumstances contribute to human trafficking within and from Latin America and the Caribbean. Individual risk factors include poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, history of physical or sexual abuse, homelessness, drug use, and gang membership.

The IOM in Colombia has identified some personal characteristics common among trafficking victims. These include a tendency to take risks in order to fulfill one’s goals, a focus on short-term rewards that may result from short-term risks, and a lack of familial support and/or strong social networks. These risk factors that may “push” an individual towards accepting a risky job proposition in another country have been compounded by “pull” factors, including the hope of finding economic opportunity abroad, which is fueled by television and internet images of wealth in the United States and Europe.

Outside factors contributing to human trafficking include the following: 1) the high global demand for domestic servants, agricultural laborers, sex workers, and factory labor; 2) political, social, or economic crises, as well as natural disasters, occurring in particular countries; 3) lingering machismo (chauvinistic attitudes and practices) that tends to lead to discrimination against women and girls; 4) existence of established trafficking networks with sophisticated recruitment methods; 5) public corruption, especially complicity between law enforcement and border agents with traffickers and alien smugglers; 6) restrictive immigration policies in some destination countries that have limited the opportunities for legal migration flows to occur; 7) government disinterest in the issue of human trafficking; and 8) limited economic opportunities for women in Latin America...

Congress and the Law

Dec.10, 2009

See also:

Sex Trafficking Now a $16 Billion Business in Latin America

The trafficking of women and girls for purposes of sexual exploitation has become a $16-billion-a-year business in Latin America, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration.

That amount "is almost half of what is calculated is generated worldwide" by sex trafficking, said IOM's director for the Southern Cone, Eugenio Ambrosi...

"There's a very well organized network, with the capacity to recruit and use women everywhere to satisfy the requirements of the market," said Ambrosi, adding that "something has to be done to go after the customers." ...

The IOM chief for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay said that a procurer "has a net profit of $13,000 per year" on each woman they exploit...

Ambrosi said that in Argentina, "they pay between $32.50 and $1,623 for a woman who can generate $389 per day by being sexually exploited." ...

The International Labor Organization estimates that roughly 1.3 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean- most of them women and children - are subjected to forced labor...

EFE News Services


Added: Dec. 26, 2009

Georgia, USA

Anti-Slavery Pioneer Frederick Douglass

Douglass Descendants Declare War on Human Trafficking - Modern-Day Slavery

Atlanta - "Slavery exists today and it is time to educate ourselves about the brutal exploitation people in our own communities are experiencing."

These are the words of Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., but they echo those of a famous ancestor who escaped slavery at age 20 and went on to become a defender of human rights and one of America's greatest leaders. The family of the great Abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, wants your help in ending all forms of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. "It's the world's second most profitable illegal industry, yet the buying and selling of people is a crime that's poorly understood, " says Mr. Morris, President of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation.

Students from middle schools and high schools across the country have been selected to help the foundation launch an awareness campaign beginning December 2nd. The campaign, being touted as the beginning of a new Abolitionist Movement, happens in concert with the United Nations' International Day for the Abolition of Slavery which commemorates a 1949 UN convention to end human trafficking and the exploitation of people everywhere in the world.

How can you help? On December 2nd, young people all over the USA will communicate the message of Abolition Day to friends, family and as many people as they can reach through the Internet and the media. Non-profit organizations and government agencies that deal with this issue will use December 2nd as a day to talk about the work they do. The foundation also asks:

Parents to learn: how their children could become victims of human trafficking and discuss it openly with the entire family (go to fdff.org/adproject for ideas),

* Community and church leaders to host: open forums about human trafficking,

* Law Enforcement to visit: schools and create programs in which students can participate.

The Frederick Douglass Family Foundation's Chairwomen, Nettie Washington Douglass, says that, "Women and children are most frequently the victims of these tragic crimes." Mrs. Douglass is the great great granddaughter of Frederick Douglass and she is the great granddaughter of Booker T. Washington. Mr. Morris is her eldest son.


SOURCE The Frederick Douglass Family Foundation

Dec. 1, 2009

See also:

Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., President of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation and a descendent of both Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, teaches high school students about modern human slavery at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia

The Frederick Douglass Family Foundation presents campaign against modern human slavery.

The Frederick Douglass Family Foundation

Added: Dec. 26, 2009

The United States

Rescued Child Prostitutes Not Receiving Help

The FBI saved more than 50 in an October crackdown, but experts say the victims need intensive residential treatment, which they aren't getting. Such help is in scant supply.

Reporting from Washington - More than a month after the FBI announced it had rescued 52 children from "sexual slavery" in a nationwide crackdown on child prostitution, none of the victims is receiving the help experts say is necessary to overcome such trauma and rejoin society...

Richard Estes, a social policy professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on child sexual exploitation, said the "best fighting chance" for victims is "24/7 residential care for a long period of time."

"This is not a quick-fix situation," he said. "It really is a rebuilding and remolding of personality and character."

Many victims are abused long before they are lured into the sex trade, Estes said. Their symptoms often include guilt, anxiety and inappropriate sexual behavior.

"Most of the girls that have run away and are on the streets have run away because of sexual abuse," he said.

Lois Lee, founder of a 24-bed Los Angeles shelter called Children of the Night, sees the problems firsthand.

"When America's child prostitutes are identified by the FBI or police, they are incarcerated for whatever reason possible, whether it be an unrelated crime or 'material witness hold,' " she said.

"Then they are dumped back in the dysfunctional home, ill-equipped group home or foster care, and [often] disappear back into the underground of prostitution with no voice."

...Some of the local law enforcement officials who worked with the FBI on the October bust echoed Lee's comments. Child victims are often sent home or to foster families after moving through juvenile court, the officials said.

For instance, six children ages 10 to 17 rescued in Toledo, Ohio, were processed through the local children services bureau before ending up in a nonresidential counseling program, Toledo Police Det. Peter Schwartz said...

Donna M. Hughes, a women's studies professor at the University of Rhode Island who has researched U.S. sex trafficking, argues that domestic victims are shortchanged by the attention authorities and advocacy groups give to the illegal importation of foreign prostitutes.


"We need more treatment programs," Hughes said. "There are a number of different programs that have existed for years, but they need more support."

[A] Health and Human Services Department study found only four residential treatment centers in the United States for child prostitutes, with a total of 45 beds...

It's not nearly enough, said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He estimated that U.S. child victims numbered between 100,000 and 300,000.

"You can't just take them home," Allen said. "The challenge is there are not enough resources" to help them.

Keith Haight, a former Los Angeles police detective who retired in 2008, spent 22 years on the vice squad. He said despite the push in the last few years to help victims, rather than prosecute them as prostitutes, how to do it remained elusive.

"A lot of places don't want to take responsibility for girls that are known to be sexually active," he said.

Joe Markman

The Los Angeles Times

Dec. 8, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009


Guatemala Slowly Confronts Widespread Rape of Women

Guatemala City - Moving up the ranks of Guatemala's ruthless gangs can be as simple as robbing a store at knife point or as brutal as shooting a city bus driver. Marisole figures she fell somewhere in between.

In January, a group of gang members ripped the teenager off a public bus at 7:30 a.m. Six of them raped her for nine hours in a house she'd never seen. Eventually they dropped her off shirtless in a nearby shopping center parking lot.

"It hurt so much," said Marisole, who did not want her last name used for fear of her safety. "I don't know why they did it. I thought they were just going to rob the bus. I made eye contact with them. And they just took me away in front of everyone."

From the patriarchal days of the Spanish conquistadors to the military's systematic torture of women during its 36-year civil war, the country has long cultivated a reputation as one of the Western hemisphere's most brutal places for women. These days, Marisole and thousands of other victims of gang violence and a wave of street crime are giving that long-standing problem a new face. The government estimated that 10,000 women were raped last year, about 77 for every 100,000 residents. The real numbers are likely higher, organizations said...

'Of all the banana republics, it's the most repressive'

...From the streets of San Salvador to the murders of women in Juárez, Mexico, and domestic violence in the US, violence against women cuts across the hemisphere. But Guatemala's history, its male-dominated culture, the growth of gangs battling for territory and the climbing level of violence have made its problem more complex.

"Of all the banana republics, it's the most repressive," says Roselyn Costantino, a Pennsylvania State University professor who studies violence against women in the region. "The country is out of control right now with [drug] trafficking and violence, and women are often the innocent ones caught in between."

While drugs and violence are common throughout Latin America, Guatemala's broken judicial system largely allows gangs to rape and kill with impunity. Only 2 percent of crimes are brought to trial, according to the United Nations.

Violence against women also has deep roots in Guatemalan society. Throughout the conservative society, women have little protection. Under the domestic abuse law, for example, charges can only be brought if a woman's bruises are visible 10 days after the incident.

"Women have never been equal partners in this society," Costantino said. They have always been looked on as property, he added. "This is a culture that has never wanted to confront its legacy of violence against women."...

"By dropping someone off without her blouse on after they'd raped her, they are saying, 'We control this neighborhood and you better not cross us,'" says Harry E. Vanden, a researcher who specializes in Central American gangs and has served as an expert witness in cases against gang members...

Under threat, women drop charges

Marisole said she chose not to push for her crime to be prosecuted because her attackers told her they would kill her and her family. Eight of 10 women who press charges wind up dropping them.

A virgin when she was raped, she says, Marisole has suffered with shame in recent months, telling just two of her closest friends about the incident. These days, sitting next to a man on a bus or being alone with her boyfriend make her nervous. "I hope I get better one day," she says. "But I'm afraid I'm hurt for life."

Ezra Fieser

The Christian Science Monitor

Nov. 20, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009


Humbled Lohan

Lindsay Lohan has come back from her humanitarian trip to India "a changed woman," her mom,Dina, claims. She tells us that Lindsay was "humbled and moved" by the plight of the children she saw while filming a BBC documentary about human trafficking in India. Lindsay was spotted doing last-minute Christmas bargain shopping at Century 21 downtown on Wednesday. Dina added, "Lindsay definitely wants to give more back. We are now planning a trip to help the children of Guatemala -- which will be filmed by Oprah's network."

The New York Post

Dec. 25, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009

Washington State, USA

Appeals Court Overturns Ruling On False IDs

Spokane - In a decision that prosecutors hope could set precedent, an appeals court has overruled a Yakima County judge who questioned the harm an orchard worker caused by using false identification.

The decision by the Division III Court of Appeals in Spokane reinstated a jury's verdict against Rodolfo Ramirez Tinajero, a 46-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico whose arrest made headlines two years ago when he was accused of luring women seeking work into orchards in the Lower Valley and raping them.

Authorities said that at the time of his arrest for the orchard rapes, Tinajero had several pieces of false ID. Among the documents were a Social Security card and a permanent-resident card commonly known as a "green card."

In a trial held separately from his prosecution on rape charges, a jury in February convicted Tinajero of unlawful possession of fictitious identification. But Superior Court Judge Blaine Gibson questioned whether the defendant's employer at the time had suffered any actual harm as a result and dismissed the case. Tinajero's work performance had not been called into question.

The appeals court ruled that Gibson should have considered the trouble a business -- in this case a company called Big Cherry Orchards -- can get into for employing illegal immigrants knowingly or even unknowingly.

"To avoid potential liability, Big Cherry Orchards must know the true identity of its employees," Judge Teresa Kulik wrote in a decision released Thursday.

Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Eilmes said his office is considering whether to ask the Court of Appeals to publish the decision, a legal maneuver that would effectively mark the case as setting a precedent.

"We're thinking about it, because this case could have precedential value," he said...

In July, Tinajero was sentenced to life in prison without parole for raping a woman looking for work at an orchard in the Buena area. Tinajero qualified for the state's two-strikes law for sex crimes because of a 1994 conviction for burglary with sexual intent.

He awaits trial in a second rape case alleging he used a radio ad to lure a woman to an orchard in the Toppenish area. That case is set for trial February 8.

Court records indicate Tinajero was deported to Mexico after his burglary conviction in 1994.

Chris Bristol

Yakima Herald-Republic

Dec. 24, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009

Texas, USA

Mother, Son Get 27 Months For Harboring Immigrant [Teen as a Sex Slave]

A mother and son were each sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday and forced to forfeit their home for harboring a 16-year-old girl who was smuggled into the United States from Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake sentenced Gregoria Vasquez-Salgado, 59, and her son, 28-year-old David Salazar, to identical prison terms for a federal charge of harboring an illegal immigrant. Vasquez-Salgado is subject to deportation to Mexico when she completes her sentence because she is in the country illegally. She was given nine months credit for time already served.

The pair was arrested after San Jacinto police traced a 911 call to their home in March 2008 and found a teenage girl from Mexico who said she had been held captive.

“I apologize for what I did,” Salazar said to the judge before he was sentenced.

Salazar and Vasquez-Salgado originally were charged with kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault of a child in Harris County in the case, but those charges were dropped in December 2008.

According to state court documents, the girl said she was duped by Salazar into coming illegally from Mexico and then being forced to work as a sex slave at their Houston cantina, El Club Guerrero, on Wallisville Road...

Susan Carroll

Houston Chronicle

Dec. 17, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009

Texas, USA

Texas Police: Teen Was Victim of Human Trafficking

San Juan - A 16-year-old Mexican girl was raped, deprived of food and forced into household labor by a South Texas family who sneaked her across the Mexican border into the United States, police said.

Ofelia Vargas, 45, was arrested Wednesday and charged with failure to report a felony, San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez said. Her daughter, Belen Vargas, 17, has been charged with misdemeanor assault. Police are searching for her son, Benito Vargas, 17, who was last seen at the girl's home in Jalisco, Mexico...

Gonzalez said police believe Benito Vargas sexually assaulted the girl and that his mother did not respond to her cries for help. Gonzalez also said the girl's family told authorities Benito Vargas went to their home searching for her after she disappeared and tried to intimidate them.

The police chief told The Monitor in McAllen it's not uncommon for girls and women to be lured north across the border under false pretenses. He said the 16-year-old "came over with the intent of a better life, but what she walked into was a nightmare."

The teen was beaten on several occasions, rarely fed and forced to sleep on a couch outside, he said. She escaped this week through a window in the house...

Police said Benito Vargas may face additional charges, including unlawful restraint and human trafficking.

The Associated Press

Dec. 25, 2009

See also:

16-year-old Girl Held Against Her Will in

San Juan

Katie Lopez


Dec. 23, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009


A taxi driver arrives for her shift in Puebla, Mexico.

Photo: Eliana Aponte / Reuters

Mexico: Safety Comes in Pink Taxis

Mexico joins countries as far away as Lebanon and India with its female-only pink taxis that provide smoother and safer transport for female commuters, as more women join the workforce.

One of the first lessons a new visitor in Mexico learns, especially a woman, is this: Do not hail a cab off the street. Too often criminals posing as drivers transport passengers not to their requested destinations but to bank machines to empty out their savings.

Now Mexico has an answer, at least for women: The central city of Puebla this October unveiled a fleet of 35 bright-pink cars for women only, and Mexico City followed suit in November with plans for a similar service.

Female-only cabs are not only intended to shield women from would-be criminals but also from lewd looks and sexual passes. The idea came after Mexico City launched a new fleet of women-only buses in January 2008 that refuse men passage. The city also offers women-only space in the subway.

Mexico joins countries as far away as Lebanon and India trying to provide smoother and safer transport for female commuters, as more and more women join the workforce...

Sara Miller Llana

The Christian Science Monitor

Dec. 24, 2009

See also:


Los Taxis Rosa Llegan a Nuestra Ciudad.

Pink Taxis Arrive in Puebla

Puebla, Mexico es la última ciudad en ofrecer un servicio de taxi exclusivo para mujeres. Previsto como medio de transporte seguro, las treinta y cinco flotas de Chevys rosados solo son conducidas por mujeres y no pararán cuando un hombre trate de subir. Además, a pedido de las mujeres, todos los autos llevan consigo un set de belleza, GPS y botones de emergencia ante pánico como valor agregado al servicio prestado. El gobierno regional, quién está licenciando el servicio) ha entrenado a más de 60 conductoras de taxis rosados (edades entre 25 y 45) en teoría de manejo y práctica tanto como en mantenimiento de autos como cambiar una llanta...


Nov. 19, 2009

See also:


Promueven Empresa de Taxis Rosados Para Mujeres

Guatemala - La empresa Rosado Express decidió abrir sus servicios de taxis femeninos a raíz de la inseguridad, robos y violaciones que sufren muchas guatemaltecas en taxis ilegales, especialmente los fines de semana y cuando salen por las noches, indicó Luis Rosales...

Pink Taxi Service for Women Starts

Guatemala - The company Pink Express has decided to a women’s taxi services female to respond to the fact that women taxi customers face insecurity, robbery and rape at the hands of many drivers of illegal taxis, especially during weekends and at night, says Luis Rosales, supervisor at the company.

The taxi service will be provided only to women, children and seniors, and each taxi will include a first aid kit. Pink Express currently has 5 taxis.

Before starting the service, a marketing survey was performed in which a thousand women living in Guatemala City were interviewed in order to understand their needs for taxi service...

Rosales concluded by noting that each taxi will have a woman driver, which will allow women passengers to feel confidence and security.


July 08, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009

Texas, USA

Thaddeus Gonzalez

Denver Man Facing Child Sex Assault Charges

Denver - Investigators say a Denver man sexually assaulted three young girls, and they're concerned more victims haven't come forward.

Prosecutors have filed charges against 40-year-old Thaddeus Gonzalez which include sexual assault on a child and sexual assault with a ten-year age difference.

The Denver District Attorney's Office says Gonzalez assaulted three girls ranging in age from 8 to 16...

The alleged assaults occurred between 2007 and 2009.

Gonzales is free on $57,000 bond.

KDVR Denver

Dec.15, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009

New York, USA

Joshua Albarracin

Teen Confesses To Critically Beating Baby

Sunrise - A 23-month-old girl is fighting for her life after she was allegedly beaten by her mother's teenage boyfriend while he was babysitting Monday night.

Joshua Albarracin, 18, was babysitting his girlfriend's 3-year-old and 23-month-old girls when the younger child began crying and asking for her mother, said Sunrise Police spokesman Brian Gerity.

Albarracin told police he tried to calm her down but the child kept crying. That's when he said he "lost it" and shoved her into the couch. But, according to Albarracin, the child continued to cry.

He told police he then drove his right knee into her with his full force several times before putting the child on a bed.

When the mother arrived, she noticed that the child was very lethargic and called 911.

The girl has a ruptured bowel and liver and is in very critical condition at Broward General Medical Center.


Dec. 16, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009

New York, USA

Cyan Brown, 16, in Hiding After Stabbing Subway Thug in Queens; Mom Says it Was Self-defense

The 16-year-old girl suspected of fatally stabbing an ex-con lashed out after he and a bevy of men chased her onto a Queens subway train and tried to fondle her, her mother said Friday.

Thomas Winston, 29, and a pack of thugs tried to pull Cyan Brown out of a subway car at the 21st St. - Queensbridge station about 9 p.m. Thursday following an altercation that began outside a nearby chicken restaurant, police and family said.

She fought back and stabbed Winston before she fled on a Manhattan-bound F train, police said.

Winston, the father of a 10-month-old girl, was pronounced dead at a Manhattan hospital...

"The guys tried to feel up my daughter and the next thing I know, someone was knocking on my door saying Cyan stabbed someone," said Erika Brown, 40, the teen's mother.

Winston, who lived in a nearby shelter, had a long list of prior convictions that included criminal possession of a weapon and selling narcotics and also faced an attempted murder charge, sources said...

Kerry Burke and Joe Kemp

New York Daily News

Dec. 26, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009

Texas, USA

Gabriel Luis Sanchez

Taylor ISD Substitute Charged in Sex Assault of Student

A Taylor Independent School District teacher has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a student on campus.

The alleged assault happened Tuesday, December 8, 2009. The student reported the incident on Wednesday. By Thursday, officers arrested the substitute teacher and brought him to the Williamson County Jail.

Gabriel Luis Sanchez, 24, is charged with the sexual assault of the student, a second degree felony.

According to Taylor ISD, Sanchez and the female student had a sexual encounter on the campus Tuesday afternoon.

“We trust the employees and the teachers and the principals to make sure that our children stay safe,” said Kandis Steward, a Taylor High School mother. “For someone to just do that to a child. You know, I mean, it's unthinkable. It's unthinkable and I'm just totally blown away by it.”

Superintendent Dr. Bruce Scott says the student told an assistant principal the next day. She said it happened inside one of the classrooms on campus around 4 p.m.

“The student was nervous but said she knew what happened was wrong and needed to be reported,” said Superintendent Scott.

The district immediately removed Sanchez from the campus. Officers began investigating the allegations. Police arrested Sanchez the following day.

Sanchez was employed as a substitute instructional aide at the high school...

Jessica Vess


Dec. 11, 2009

Added: Dec. 26, 2009

Arizona, USA

Tucson Man Sentenced to 2 Life Terms in Deaths of Women in 2008

Tucson - A 24-year-old Tucson man who says Satan told him to rape three women and kill two of them faces two life terms plus 20 years in prison.

Apollo Keith Ortega originally faced the death penalty in the 2008 slayings of Margie Ortiz and Norma Jean Conner, but agreed last month to the two terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Judge Kenneth Lee sentenced Ortega on Friday in a hearing that gave the relatives of the two slain women and the surviving victim a chance to speak.

A friend of the surviving woman told the judge she remains scared and full of pain.

The three women all were attacked over a 19-day period.

The Associated Press

Dec. 18, 2009

Added: Dec. 24, 2009

New York, USA

Salvadoran women victims of sexual harassment hold press conference about their U.S. EEOC complaint

Sexual Harassment Alleged at Edgewood Plant

Alleged victims move for a federal lawsuit

Six women who worked for nearly a decade at the Long Island division of a government contractor claim that supervisors sexually harassed them and then fired the women last year for rejecting their sexual advances.

One of the women, all of whom are El Salvadorian, described their experiences working as inspectors at the mail-equipment repair facility owned by Texas-based Alan Ritchey Inc. at news conference on Wednesday at the offices of Carle Place-based Leeds Morelli & Brown. The women are exploring the possibility of filing a federal lawsuit against the company and the men who allegedly harassed them.

The women filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in April and those complaints were cross-filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights. The EEOC is investigating the cases, but now that the 180-day review period has ended, the women may be able to file suit.

“I came to this country to work hard, not to work in a place where the manager asks to have sex with you,” said Samantha Reyes, 38, of Bellmore. She said that one day one of the managers forced her into an empty truck and tried to force her to have sex with him at work. He told her that if she did there would be benefits, but she said she refused.

A number of the estimated 50 women who work there have had similar experiences, she said, adding that some women go through with it because they are afraid of losing their jobs.

Another time, she said, a manager told her to leave work early and join him at a motel for sex. She said the said the alleged sexual harassment began in 2003 and was a daily occurrence.

“I’m afraid to go back to work,” Reyes said, flanked by Jeffrey Brown, senior partner at the law firm, Nadia Marin-Molina, executive director of the Hempstead-based Workplace Project, an immigrant rights group, and five other Hispanic women who were also allegedly victimized.

“People have rights in the country, even if they are not legal citizens,” Brown said, noting that all of the women have their working papers but are not US citizens. “These are women who are in desperate need of their jobs,” most of whom are married with children but are now unemployed, he said...

The women also named the Ronkonkoma-based Local 1222 of the United Public Service Employee Union in their complaints, alleging the union failed to advocate for them.

Reyes said she was afraid to call the police about the persistent alleged sexual harassment because she was afraid of losing her job. But when she and five others collectively complained about the hostile environment—which included three managers and an assistant manager who routinely exposed themselves to the women or propositioned them—they were fired shortly after in June 2008.

Brown said the women had not been fired for economic reasons and that newly hired workers replaced them. A call to Alan Ritchey, which operates the Edgewood-based plant for the U.S. Postal Service, was not returned.

The women include Rosa Reyes of Baldwin, Maris Campos of Brentwood, Rosa Rivas of Brentwood, Iris Campos Chavez of Huntington Station and Lillian Cavez Campos of Brentwood.

“This one of the most shocking cases our firm has ever had,” said Brown, who is looking for more women to come forward. “This was a disgusting and lascivious environment.”

Timothy Bolger

Long Island News

Dec. 17, 2009

See also:

Fired Workers Claim Harassment


Dec. 16, 2009

See also:

Fired Workers Say They Were Sexually Harassed, Assaulted at Work


Dec. 16, 2009

LibertadLatina Commentary

Chuck Goolsby

Severe Sexual Harassment Continues to Plague Latina Women and Girls in the Low-wage Workplace

The type of gender hostile work environ-ment experienced by Latina women workers in a factory on Long Island, New York, as described in a December 17, 2009 article in the Long Island News, Sexual Harassment Alleged at Edgewood Plant, is a commonplace occurrence in Latin America. It is also the every day experience of hundreds of thousands if not millions of Latina women in U.S. workplaces where men who believe in machismo supervise Latina women workers.

This abuse of power occurs with impunity.

Within the U.S., these conditions are rampant in low wage industries including office and hotel cleaning, restaurant work and farm labor. For all of the reasons described in the above case, Latina women and underage girl workers remain silent in the great majority of cases, be they legal residents of the U.S. or not.

Our work in advocacy for indigenous and Latina victims of sexual exploitation began with efforts to fight these types of abuses in the 1980s. Not much has changed in the commercial workplace in the ensuing 23 years. At least federal workplaces have become more aware of the rampant abuses that also plague cleaning crews in their government buildings.

For over a decade I knocked on the doors of Latino advocacy organizations in Washington, DC, asking people who I had worked with on other Latino human rights issues for help in assisting Latina victims of workplace sexual harassment and rape. All of them refused to take any action.

The traditional code of silence in el barrio, and a disinterest in the plight of victimized women lead to their turning their backs on this victim population.

Those that behaved this way even included a Latina woman reporter at the Washington Post, who took my tape recording of a Latina job applicant resisting 20 minutes of her Latino boss attempting to rape her during a re-hiring interview.

After giving this reporter a copy of the tape, she then asked for the original so that she could hear the conversations better, she said. I trusted her and gave the tape to her. That reporter later told me that the tape, which was investigatory material in an local government human rights investigation, had "been lost." That reporter also told me "well, you are accusing these guys of felonies."

Effectively, this Post reporter helped cover up these felonies by intentionally destroying evidence in the case. Why? because she felt comfortable using her position of public trust in a misguided effort to aid Latino sexual assailants by manipulating the facts and by hiding an egregious act of impunity.

This Post reporter later told me that her editor had declined to investigate this story, that of the case of the One Central Plaza office complex, in the Washington, DC suburb of  Rockville, Maryland, where women workers were: being raped; fired for resisting rape; sexually accosted, manhandled and caressed while pregnant; and fired for being pregnant and told to come back after the pregnancy (so that they could then be sexually exploited by the three Guatemalan cleaning crew managers / perpetrators at that workplace).

Some women were coerced into prostitution at this office complex, that held both commercial and Maryland state offices.

As she explained why her editor would not allow her to investigate this case, she told me that he had told her that the Washington Post did not allow its reporters to work in dangerous situations.

I have rhetorically asked an important question during the 15 years since this case unfolded: If the Washington Post recognized that conditions were dangerous at One Central Plaza, was the case not, then, important news that needed to be reported-on by them?

I hope that this former Post reporter, now working on the West Coast, can live with herself for the actions that she took in this case.

Our web site includes a complete report on the details of the One Central Plaza case.

This dynamic of impunity represents another cultural clash between Latin America and U.S. law and social standards. While sexual harassment occurs in the U.S. in many settings, it is absolutely endemic in Latin America. When Latina women and girls complain about it here in the U.S., the perpetrators respond with an angry sense of entitlement, resentment and resistance to any outside meddling in their 'turf.'

In 1994 I related to a Colombian friend the details of a workplace sexual harassment case where I was advocating for the Latina victims. He looked at me with a

 strange look on his face and said very matter-of-factly, "But Chuck, in the workplace men have rights to sexual favors from all of their women workers, single or married."

As my brother-in-law, an accountant, told me in all seriousness while I was visiting Ecuador, "Chuck, of course any woman who wants to work in an office job must also 'like' [sleep with] the boss."

This attitude can be traced straight back to the Roman Empire, and from there to its  surviving form, feudal Latin American machismo.

We encourage the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) to dedicate comprehen-sive resources to the task of investigating and controlling this problem, and to changing the downward spiral that women's rights in the workplace is taking nationwide due to the growth of this outrageous form of openly sexist behavior.

End impunity now!

Chuck Goolsby


Dec. 24, 2009

Updated Dec. 27, 2009

See also:

How to file a discrimination complaint with the U.S. EEOC


See also:

LibertadLatina Special Section

About the sexual exploitation of indigenous and Latina women in the workplace across the Americas

Added: Dec. 24, 2009

Texas, USA

Arrested suspects

16-year-old Girl Held Against Her Will in

San Juan

[San Juan, Texas lies near the U.S. border, across from Reynosa, Mexico, a known sex trafficking center and staging area.]

The call came from concerned members of the community claiming a 16-year-old girl was being held against her will in San Juan.

"Since November until now we have at least six documented incidents where he forcibly raped her," said San Juan Chief Juan Gonzalez.

The victim was able to climb out of a window and get to a shelter where she filed a report with police.

Action 4's cameras were rolling as both San Juan police and U.S. Marshals swarmed the house where the girl said she was kept.

Inside the home they arrested two illegal immigrants and a woman identified as Ofelia Vargas, the mother of Benito Vargas, the man accused of this horrific crime...

Police... "It does look there is some sort of safe house possibly a staging area, we're going to check with that," ... "Hopefully we can determine whether these individuals are involved in human trafficking."

Police also told Action 4 News that Vargas would make the victim stay outside for days on end without food or water.

They said she would sleep on a sofa on the porch.

Both Benito Vargas and Ofelia Vargas could face additional charges.

Katie Lopez


Dec. 23, 2009

Added: Dec. 24, 2009

Texas, USA

Taurino Rodriguez and Javier Salgado-Martinez

Woman Alleges Rape in Human Trafficking Case

A Guatemalan woman is recovering after she was allegedly raped by a man who was supposed to help smuggle her to Houston.

Cameron County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Taurino Rodriguez and Javier Salgado-Martinez on state human trafficking charges on Monday.

Authorities added aggravated kidnapping, unlawful restraint and sexual assault charges against Rodriguez based on the Guatemalan woman’s allegations.

According to investigators, their alleged victim is an illegal immigrant who paid $7,000 dollars to be smuggled to Houston in October.

The woman traveled from Guatemala to Monterrey and then on to Reynosa before being brought into the Rio Grande Valley.

She alleges that she declined Rodriguez’s advances and that’s when he took her to a tire shop off Commerce Street in Harlingen.

Rodriguez is accused of raping the woman and telling her that, “There’s nothing she could do and that he does that to all the women he helps smuggle.”

The woman claims she was held her against her will for at least one day without food or water before being taken to a stash house in La Feria.

The Guatemalan woman and other illegal immigrants were moved but caught by Border Patrol near Falfurrias.

Both Rodriguez and Salgado-Martinez told Judge Saenz in court that they are illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Salgado-Rodriguez remains in custody under a $75,000 dollar bond while Rodriguez remains jailed under $185,000 dollars in bonds.

Sergio Chapa


Dec. 23, 2009

Added: Dec. 24, 2009


Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts in Canada: Aboriginal Girls Remain Forgotten

The sex trafficking of Aboriginal [indigenous] females in Canada had been rampant… even before the human trafficking issue became... a huge deal in the international community...

According to researchers, between 70 percent of sexually exploited girls and 50 percent sex workers in Winnipeg are of Aboriginal descent. The figure is clearly alarming since "Aboriginal peoples only make up 10 percent of the Winnipeg population."

The same research also stated that poverty, physical and sexual abuse, homelessness, racism, and low self-esteem are the contributing factors behind the over- representation of Aboriginal women in sex trafficking. Yet, the Canadian government has failed to address such root causes…

If the Canadian government continues to ignore the rampant sex trafficking of Aboriginal women and refuse to address the root cases of human trafficking in the country, ...human trafficking will never stop..., and Canada will... retain its notorious reputation as a safe haven for organized criminals.

Youngbee Kim

The Examiner

Dec. 21, 2009

See also:

Added: Dec. 24, 2009


Not Everyone is Equal in Canada: Aboriginal Teenage Sex Trafficking Victims Unprotected by Law

…Aboriginal women continuously become victims of violence, including human trafficking, which demands particular attention from the government. According to the limited data available on the sex trafficking of aboriginal women and children, more than 500 Aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the last few decades. Michael Cettleburgh, a Canadian gang expert, has testified that 90% of the teenage urban prostitutes in Canada are aboriginal...  Moreover, roughly 75% of Aboriginal teenage girls are sexually abused. ...50% of this population is under the age of 14. A quarter of them are under the age of 7. Experts also testified that Aboriginal [youth]... between 12 and 14 are prostituting in North Winnipeg. They are pimped by gang members and are selling their bodies for 20 dollars…

Ironically, Canadian socialist parties oppose child trafficking bills to protect these victims.

According to a news report in Canada, Canadian socialists refuse to impose harsher crimes on child trafficking offenders. They are, according to the report, firmly supported by the criminals and are generally soft on crime… Even those who are convicted of sex trafficking… [spend] less than five years in jail. Their… time [in] pre-trial custody counts as part of [their sentence]. For instance, Michael Lennox Mark, a sex trafficking offender, only spent a week in jail for the sex trafficking of 4 teenage victims

Youngbee Kim

The Examiner

Nov. 06, 2009

Added: Dec. 24, 2009

Florida, USA

Rumaldo Frometa

Suspect Arrested In Sexual Assault On Young Boy

Broward Sheriff's investigators have made an arrest in connection with a sexual assault of a young boy this week in a Fort Lauderdale park.

Sheriff's investigators brought in 17-year-old Rumaldo Frometa Wednesday evening for questioning. The following morning they announced that he was being charged in the attack.

...The 9-year-old boy was playing with his younger sister at Sunview Park, located at 1500 SW 42nd Avenue around 5:00 p.m. Monday evening. While at the park, investigators say Frometa approached the children and told them he was a police officer; he even showed them a set of handcuffs and a gun. He then reportedly ordered the boy into a handicapped accessible portable bathroom where he sexually battered him. The boy told deputies his attacker then allowed he and his sister to walk home.

The boy was treated and released from Plantation General Hospital before being transported to the Sexual Assault Treatment Center.

Frometa was charged with capital sexual battery, kidnapping and falsely impersonating a police officer. He was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center and will be held in juvenile detention.

BSO said Frometa is no stranger to the law; he was arrested in 2008 for allegedly sexually battering another child in Ft. Lauderdale.


Dec. 24, 2009


Added: Dec. 23, 2009

The United States

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and John Cornyn

Wyden and Cornyn Launch Effort to Help Victims of Sex Trafficking

Legislation provides comprehensive plan to help law enforcement and victims.

Shadowy multibillion-dollar industry far more widespread than expected. Photo courtesy: MSNBC

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (Democrat-Oregon) and John Cornyn (Republican-Texas) introduced legislation today that they say would take a comprehensive approach to shutting down human sex trafficking.

The bill includes provisions to set up block grant pilot projects in six states that would establish shelters for victims and provide treatment, counseling and legal aid, while also giving law enforcement the tools to crack down on pimps.

“It’s time we started rescuing the victims of sex trafficking and imprisoning those who profit from human slavery,” said Wyden. “The federal government has a responsibility to catch and prosecute modern-day slave owners, and providing a realistic way out for their victims will help achieve that end.”

“Our nation must remain committed to ending the scourge of human trafficking. This legislation will provide valuable assistance to state and local governments on the front lines of battling organized criminal syndicates and violent gangs that traffic humans for labor and sex,” said Cornyn.

“I am proud to partner with Senator Wyden on this important bipartisan effort.” ...


Dec. 22, 2009

See also:

Press Release of Senator Wyden: Wyden and Cornyn Launch Effort to Help Victims of Sex Trafficking

Senator Ron Wyden

Dec. 22, 2009

Note: Senator Cornyn did not have a press release on this issue.

See also:

Wyden Presses for Sex Trafficking Law at Portland News Conference

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden likened sex trafficking to "slavery" today as he pressed for legislation that would protect underage girls from being exploited into prostitution.

Wyden was joined by police, victims' rights advocates and other elected officials in a downtown Portland news conference. He outlined plans for a federal law that would provide $2.5 million grants to regions such as Oregon, which has become a hub of child prostitution.

The money would help get girls off the streets and provide police with resources to put those who exploit them in prison.

"It's time to take a harder line in prosecuting those who prey on young girls and lure them into a life of sexual exploitation," Wyden said in a news release.

"The first step in doing that is separating them from their pimps and providing them with a safe and promising alternative so they can provide law enforcement with the evidence needed to bring the real criminals to justice," the senator said. "These girls are victims. Their pimps are the criminals."

Bryan Denson

The Oregonian

Nov. 12, 2009

Added: Dec. 23, 2009

Pennsylvania, USA

Charleeni Ferreira

Rest in Peace!

Victim's Father: Domingo Ferreira, and Stepmother Margarita Garabito

Outrage Grows In Philadelphia Girl’s Abuse Death

Department of Human Services Releases Statement In Case

Philadelphia - Murder charges have been filed against the father and stepmother of a 10-year-old Philadelphia girl who died shortly after being found unconscious in her home.

Police said 53-year-old Domingo Ferreira and 43-year-old Margarita Garabito are both charged with murder and child endangerment in the death of Ferreira's daughter, Charleeni, on Wednesday.

Homicide Capt. James Clark called it one of the worst cases of child abuse he has ever seen.

The girl had been the subject of a Department of Human Services investigation for possible abuse in 2007 and files are now being reviewed...

Investigators said the girl had numerous healed and fresh injuries, including broken bones, bruises, burn marks and a severe head wound that was stuffed with gauze and covered with a hair weave.

Fox 29 obtained a copy of Garabito’s statement to police in which admits that she "repeatedly struck" Charleeni in the months before her death with a broom handle. Garabito admitted covering up a large wound to the child's head with gauze and a hair weave because she knew she would "get in trouble” if it was discovered by school authorities or the police.

Authorities said Charleeni also had suffered injuries indicating that she had been sexually abused, but neither parent has been charged with a sex crime. The investigation is continuing...

"She was a beautiful girl. She was so -- I can't forget her smile," said Wanda Torres. "Three days ago, four days ago she smiled to me and said, 'No, I don't want no boyfriend. I've got to finish my school and I'm going to go to college and be somebody. .. And this is the way it finished." ...


Dec. 18, 2009

See also:

Parents Charged in Death of Girl, 10

What 10-year-old Charleeni Ferreira suffered at the hands of her father and stepmother was nothing short of torture, police officials said yesterday, calling her death one of the worst cases of child abuse they have seen...

John Sullivan and Troy Graham

Philadelphia Inquirer

Dec. 18, 2009

See also:

Credibility of States ‘Rest[s] in Their Work for Future Generations’; Children

...[In] Latin America, ...child-protection laws were inadequate in many instances and abuse within families account[s]... for the deaths of 80,000 children under 18 years of age [annually]...

United Nations General Assembly

Oct. 16, 2009

Added: Dec. 23, 2009

Texas, USA

Miguel Maldonado

Man Accused Of Kidnap, Stabbing, Rape

Brazoria County - A man was arrested and accused of kidnapping, stabbing and sexually assaulting a woman, KPRC Local 2 reported Tuesday.

Brazoria County sheriff's deputies said Miguel Maldonado, 19, was driving around the Pasadena area on Tuesday at about 11 p.m. with a 20-year-old acquaintance when he stabbed her seven times in the face, neck, ear, stomach, hands and leg with a knife.

He then forced the victim to drive to Pearland, where he sexually assaulted her, detectives said.

The woman told deputies that she was able to convince Maldonado to let her get medical help, so she drove to a Pearland movie theater where 911 was called.

Maldonado was charged with aggravated kidnapping. More charges are pending.

He is being held on a $200,000 bond.

The woman said she knew Maldonado through a relative.


Dec. 22, 2009

Added: Dec. 23, 2009

Virginia, USA

Girl fondled while walking to school

A 13-year-old girl told Fairfax County Police that a man groped her while she was walking to school Dec. 15. The girl was walking... around 7:15 a.m. when a man allegedly walked up behind her and grabbed her lower body, police said.

Police... are asking for the public's assistance in identifying him. He is described as a Hispanic man in his 20s, about 5 foot 5. He was wearing a black parka, black gym pants and a multicolored hat at the time of the incident, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477)...

Woman grabbed in doorway of her home

An 18-year-old woman was allegedly grabbed by a man she found standing outside a door of her home. The woman heard a noise outside around 2:30 a.m. Dec. 14. Thinking it was her pet, she opened the door and saw a man standing there, police said. The man allegedly grabbed her, but she resisted and called for a family member to help her. The man ran off. He was described as Hispanic, about 20 years old, about 5 foot 6 and weighing 150 pounds.

Fairfax Times

Dec. 22, 2009

Added: Dec. 23, 2009

Texas, USA

Suspect sketch

Robberies, Sexual Assaults Have Nerves on Edge in Spring Branch Area

Houston - Two men are terrorizing the Spring Branch area where they committed two robberies and three sexual assaults in less than a week, according to Houston police...

"They need to be caught and they should go to hell," said Kristina Mitchell, who lives next door to the first victims. "That could happen to anybody. I mean, we live right here. It happened right there, you know."

The first incident occurred around 11:20 p.m. on November 28 at an apartment complex in the 1300 block of Witte.

Police said two armed men forced their way into the apartment, tied up the men in the house and demanded their debit cards and PIN numbers... Police said that suspect sexually assaulted one woman in the home and fondled another.

The second incident occurred around 2 a.m. on December 2 at an apartment in the 1700 block of Upland... The suspects then demanded money from a woman in the house, and one of them sexually assaulted her, police said...

The victims in both cases told police the suspects spoke Spanish with Honduran accents.

Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS...


Dec. 21, 2009

Added: Dec. 23, 2009

Virginia, USA

Accused Flasher Scares Customers at Lynchburg Kroger

Police are looking for a man they say is exposing himself to customers at a Lynchburg grocery store.

The incidents have all happened at the Kroger on Wards Road.

Investigators say a Hispanic man is driving up to women and asking if they want a ride. He then gets out of his car and pulls his pants down.

Victims say the man is heavy set and drives a gray or silver car with shiny hub caps.


Dec. 22, 2009

Added: Dec. 23, 2009

New Hampshire, USA

Police: Man Had Sex With Underage Girl He Met on MySpace

Nashua - Nashua parents discovered their 13-year-old daughter's illicit relationship with an older man when they heard noises in the middle of the night and, thinking their home was being burglarized, called police.

Police arrested Wilfredo Cuellar-Mejia, 20... yesterday after the teen sneaked him into her home. Investigators did not release her address.

Sergeant Thomas McLeod said Cuellar-Mejia and the girl met last spring on MySpace and "one thing led to another." Cuellar-Mejia is charged with 26 counts of felonious sexual assault for alleged sexual encounters that happened between Nov. 30 and Dec. 16.

Cuellar-Mejia, he said, is also in the country illegally from El Salvador. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer for him...

Pat Grossmith

New Hampshire Union Leader Staff

Dec. 17, 2009

Added: Dec. 23, 2009

Colorado, USA

Aaron Balmor Chavez

12-Year-Old Says Man Wanted Naked Pictures

Golden - A Utah airman is awaiting extradition to Colorado after a 12-year-old girl said he asked her to send naked photos of herself to him over the Internet.

Aaron Balmor Chavez, 21, was charged in Jefferson County, Colorado with one count of Internet sexual exploitation of a child and one count of attempted sexual exploitation of child - both felonies...

The Jefferson County district attorney's office said the girl contacted a teacher on Dec. 4 and said someone had asked her to send him naked pictures of herself.

Golden Police were called to the school to investigate. They contacted the District Attorney’s Office who conducted the investigation, working with Lakewood police and military police in Utah.

According to prosecutors, the girl and man met on MyYearbook.com on Dec. 3. He told her his name was "Mike" and first said he was 15 years old but later said he was 19.

The school resource officer at the school the girl attended in Golden had recently presented an Internet safety program to the students.

"The young girl in this case did all the right things," said District Attorney Scott W. Storey. "She told a trusted adult, her teacher. We spend a great deal of our resources trying to get safety messages out to kids before they communicate with strangers or send sexual photos to anybody over the Internet. This story could have had a very different outcome."


Dec. 18, 2009

Added: Dec. 22, 2009

Mexico, The United States

A teen waits for her her next john in la Coahuila - Tijuana's massive red light district near the U.S. border at San Diego County, California. Many U.S. men cross the border here daily to seek out adult women and underage teens and children in prostitution.

Over 5,000 sex workers are registered with the city health department in Tijuana and are routinely screened for STDs. Thousands of others don't bother registering.

Women and girls are trafficked from all across Mexico and Central America to the Tijuana 'sex marketplace.'

From a video posted on YouTube.com

Footnote: In April of 2006 a fellow anti-trafficking activist and I visited La Coahuila. We spoke with the two young women who appear at the very beginning of this video tape standing on a street corner.

The young Afro-Mexican woman I spoke with said that she was 23, that she was from Acapulco, that her parents knew nothing of her life in prostitution, that her boyfriend had abandoned her with two small children, that she had no pimp, and that she was proud of what she was doing and expected to come back every day to do the same.

She said that with two small children, she could not get over the U.S. border, and had to continue working in Tijuana.

I had a long discussion with her about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, and about alternatives for her future. - CG

Modern Day Slavery in Mexico and the United States

An abstract of a Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) analysis of the issue of Mexico to U.S. human trafficking

On December 3, Mexico City police freed 107 human trafficking victims who were forced to manufacture shopping bags and clothespins under “slave-like” circumstances. Officials reported that the victims exhibited signs of physical and sexual abuse, and were also malnourished, as they had been given only chicken feet and rotten vegetables. Twenty-three individuals were arrested and charged with human trafficking... While the discovery of this trafficking ring has made for lurid headlines, doubt regarding whether or not these criminals will be brought to justice illuminates the fact that Mexico still has a long road ahead in eradicating the destructive industry of human trafficking.

...Each year, according to the U.S. State Department, between 14,500 and 17,500 individuals are trafficked into the United States with a large percentage of these victims originating from or traveling through Mexico.

...Many of the Mexican criminal networks notable for narcotrafficking are also involved in human trafficking... According to Gary Hale, DEA intelligence chief for Houston, the U.S. effort to end the drug war has forced these criminal networks to seek “other crime activities to generate their income.” ...As a result, many of the criminal networks have searched for other activities, like human trafficking, to supplement their income.

Ambassador [Luis] CdeBaca [the U.S. State Department's ambassador on human trafficking] believes that focusing on eradicating human trafficking could improve U.S.-Mexican efforts to combat other forms of transnational crime. According to CdeBaca, human trafficking “appears to be an area where the [Mexican government] is prepared to cooperate with [the U.S.].” ...

Mexico is one of the world’s largest source countries in the hemisphere and countless numbers of these victims being trafficked into the United States originate here... Mexican women and children are particularly vulnerable to falling prey to traffickers as they are highly valued commodities for sex traffickers supplying destination countries, like the United States and Canada. Due to the Mexico’s proximity to the U.S. and the relaxed government regulations concerning trafficking, a huge percentage of the sex trafficking victims in the U.S. originate in Mexico...

Tackling the Issue

...Corruption prevents federal legislation, ratified to adhere to international standards, from being implemented at the local level. ...“some officials reportedly accepted or extorted bribes or sexual services, falsified identity documents, discouraged trafficking victims from reporting their crimes, or ignored child prostitution and other human trafficking activity in commercial sex sites.” ...

Possibly the most flawed aspect of existing Mexico’s legislation is that the victims themselves must bring charges against the offenders in order for the crime to be considered human trafficking. The obvious issue with this mandate is that the victims, who have been coerced and forced into servitude, are often far too traumatized and frightened to speak up against the traffickers. Victims often fear for the safety of their families as the traffickers, who are typically members of larger criminal networks, have the contacts necessary to avenge any criminal investigation that might result from the victims’ testimonies. Furthermore, without a real assurance that Mexican law enforcement officers will prosecute these offenders, victims will unfortunately be tempted to maintain their silence...

COHA Research Associate Megan McAdams

Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA)

Dec. 21, 2009

[Note: We have added our comments to the COHA web page for this report. - LL]

Re-posted: Dec. 22, 2009

Central America, Mexico

We are re-posting this 2007 article on child sex trafficking in Latin America to emphasize the gravity of the war that we are all engaged in to end modern human slavery.

This article remains an accurate snapshot of conditions in Central America and Mexico in late 2009.

María de Jesús Silva holds a "disappeared" flyer of her daughter, Jackeline Jirón Silva, who was kidnapped into sex slavery at age 11.

Trata de blancas en Centroamérica

Sex Trafficking in Central America

For non-governmental organizations, the child kidnapping and sex trafficking case of 11-year-old Jackeline Jirón Silva from Nicaragua is emblematic, as the case shows clearly how the third most profitable criminal enterprise in the world operates…

Missing posters of Jackeline have been posted 4,000 times by her mother, María de Jesús Silva, who, facing an inefficient justice system and defying her status as a poor, illiterate migrant woman, has searched for her daughter in Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador and México…

Rocío Rodríguez, director of the organization Alianza Por Tus Derechos (Alliance for Your Rights), aids María de Jesús in her search for Jackeline.  Rocío confirms the fact that [an adult prostitute named] Esmeralda, together with two men, kidnapped Jackeline. They all work for an intercontinental criminal human trafficking network that has close ties with high-ranking public officials…

Silva traveled everywhere in Central America looking for her daughter, searching in public bars that offer sex with children, and also in 'clandestine brothels.'  In one brothel María de Jesús learned that her daughter had been taken to Mexico...

María de Jesús: "I saw things that I never imagined existed.  Worse, I did things that I thought that I would never do.  The brothels are full of children, sold by traffickers and abandoned by their parents.  I saw them prostitute themselves and wished that any one of them would have been my daughter.  I settled for caressing the hair of these girls, and I imagined that in the 'next' brothel, I was going to find my daughter.  Everything that I have suffered through is nothing compared to what my girl is going through."

The traffickers appear to be aware of every step taken to rescue Jackeline.  Rocío Rodríguez  notes that when they discovered that Jackeline was in a certain location, they would call the local police, but each time a rescue operation was carried out, she had already been moved to a new location.

María de Jesús is a victim not just of child sex traffickers, but of the incompetence of the authorities in Central America...

According to Ana Salvadó, executive director for Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean for Save the Children: "We are talking about organized transnational crime.  Jackeline has been taken to many countries.  This fact shows that police and border agents are involved." …

Official statistics from... law enforcement agencies... indicate that each day in the Americas 3,000 children disappear from their homes.  They are victims of illegal adoption networks, human organ traffickers, labor exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation.  Mexico and Chile have the largest number of cases.

Mexico - The Hot Spot

Save the Children has identified the border region between Guatemala and Mexico as being the largest hot spot for the commercial sexual exploitation of children globally.  Ana Salvadó: "It the neck in the bottle, because many children attempt to migrate from Central [and South] America to the United States, and they never get past [southern] Mexico, where they are sold by pimps..."

A study by the international organization ECPAT, "End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes"... reveals that over 21,000 Central Americans, with the majority being children, are prostituted in 1,552 bars and brothels in Tapachula, Mexico. 

Traffickers sell these children to Tapachula's pimps for $200 each.

Prostitution in cities like Tapachula operates openly.  Contralínea Magazine has documented the fact that traffickers work with corrupt federal and local officials in exchange for bribes or as direct participants in the criminal networks.  They do business in easily identified neighborhoods such as Las Huacas.  

According to ECPAT's report, from Tapachula, where these children are sold, the victims are transported to the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Michoacán, Guerrero, Jalisco, Nayarit, Sinaloa and Mexico City.

More that 50% of these child victims are from [Mayan indigenous] Guatemala.  The rest are Salvadorans, Hondurans and Nicaraguans.  They range in age from eight to fourteen-years-old...

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) has estimated that 500,000 persons are victims of sexual exploitation in Mexico...

In 2006, the International Labor Organization conducted a survey of adult attitudes in Mexico, Central America and South America, where it is quite easy to engage in sexual relations with children.  Some 65% of respondents stated that they don't see any problem, and they don't feel any sort of conflict or fear in regard to having sex with boy and girl children, and "they don't feel there is anything wrong with doing it."

In her latest report, the UN's Sigma Huda states that the demand for commercial sexual services is "based upon power relationships between persons based on differences in race, nationality, caste and skin color.  Some customers specifically seek out women and children with the goal of violently expressing this power relationship."

[Note: Indigenous and African descendent women and girl children have been specifically targeted for rape and sexual enslavement with impunity across the nations of Latin America for 500 years, based upon the above-described dynamics of racial hatred based exploitation. - LL]

The Organization of American States indicates that 85,000 children in the Americas are used to produce child pornography.  Mexico holds 28th place globally as a source of child porn...

In Mexico, the problem of the sexual exploit-0ation of children is 'off the scale.'  The Federal Agency of Investiga-tions (the equivalent of the U.S. FBI) has confiscated porno-graphic material in which children under age one are being sexually exploited.

UNICEF has reported that in the Mexican resort cities of Cancún and Acapulco, more than 16,000 children are trapped in forced prostitution. 

Organizations such as CATW have demanded that Mexican president Felipe Calderon's administration act to combat human trafficking…

Contralinea Magazine

Oct. 22, 2007

See also:

LibertadLatina Special Section

Jackeline Jirón Silva

Necesitamos su ayuda para ubicar a Jackeline Jirón Silva

Remember, and FIND Jackeline Jirón Silva

Added: Dec. 22, 2009

California, USA

Immigrant Crimes: Who Deserves Deportation?

San Francisco - …A federal appeals court ruled in a case from Solano County that statutory rape doesn't always require deportation…

The Solano County case involves Luis Pelayo-Garcia, 42, of Vacaville, who entered the United States illegally from Mexico in 1985 at age 17. He was on the verge of gaining legal residency in 1998 when officials learned that he had recently been convicted of statutory rape.

According to his lawyer, Gloria Martinez-Senftner, Pelayo was working at a restaurant and raising three young children after his wife left him, and took a co-worker into his home along with her husband and daughter.

At age 29, he became involved with the daughter and intended to marry her, believing she was 18, his lawyer said. But when the girl became pregnant, hospital employees learned she was only 15 and called police.

Immigration judges said Pelayo's crime was an aggravated felony and ordered him deported, but they were overruled Monday by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The federal law defines "sexual abuse of a minor" as an aggravated felony. But California's statutory rape law, prohibiting anyone older than 21 from having sex with a person under 16, does not require proof of physical or psycho-logical abuse for conviction, the court said in a 3-0 ruling…

Bob Egelko

The San Francisco Chronicle

Dec. 14, 2009

See also:

LibertadLatina Commentary

Map showing age of sexual consent in the northern regions of the Americas

Map: Wikimedia.org

 The Americas: age

 of sexual consent

Mexico's   ages of sexual consent start at 12

About the Issue of Adult Men and Underage Girls in El Barrio

The statutory rape case of Luis Pelayo-Garcia in California, reported on in the article "Immigrant Crimes: Who Deserves Deportation?," by Bob Egelko in the Dec. 14, 2009 edition of The San Francisco Chronicle, raises important questions about a clash of cultural standards between Latin America and the United States in regard to the legality and acceptability of sexual relationships between adult men and underage girls.

The Chronicle article states that Pelayo-Garcia got a 15-year-old girl pregnant and had planned to marry her. After his arrest he stated that he did not know that the girl was 15, but actually thought that she was age 18. We find this statement to be a thinly veiled effort by Pelayo-Garcia to justify his actions in the face of prosecution for statutory rape. As the girl’s mother was his employee, it is almost a certainty that Pelayo-Garcia knew that the girl was 15. The fact is that 15 is a perfectly acceptable age for a minor girl to date an adult man almost anywhere in Latin America.

Thus comes about the clash of cultural and legal norms for immigrants to the United States. Like many immigrant men I've met, Pelayo-Garcia  apparently chose to ignore U.S. law in favor of the customs of his homeland.

Latin America has, generally, much lower ages of consent for sexual relationships than does the United States. The great majority of Mexico’s 31 states, for example, set the age at 12 for girls to give their consent. Such standards exist across Latin nations.

Many men from Latin America have, therefore, engaged in sexual relationships with underage girls. It is not a secret. That reality can be seen on the streets of el barrio day and night. Such relationships are allowed under the traditional concepts of machismo.

Veteran women’s rights lawyer and director of the Latin America and the Caribbean branch of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW-LAC) - Teresa Ulloa, has noted in several press articles that an estimated 1.5 million people engage in prostitution in Central Mexico alone. According to Ulloa, some 75% of them are girls between the ages of 12 and 13 [at any given time].

These ages are consistent with the age at which girls are introduced into prostitution in the U.S. However, from a total 2009 Mexican population estimated to be 111 million, the nation has 1.1 million 12- and 13-year-old girls in prostitution at any given time (one percent of its total population), just in Central Mexico.

The U.S., with a 2009 population estimated at 308 million, has perhaps 300,000 underage youth trapped in sexual exploitation at any one point in time.

If the United States had one percent of its population, limited to 12- to 13-year-old girls, in prostitution in one populous region, we would expect to see 3.08 million young teens along, lets say, the east coast of the U.S., in prostitution.

Mexico's problem with underage prostitution goes far beyond being 10 times greater than the 'home grown' U.S. crisis.

The intensity of the crisis of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Mexico, the Spanish-speaking world’s most populous nation, is therefore much larger than it is in the U.S.

In addition to formal prostitution, Latin America’s estimated 40 million street children exist through engaging in informal prostitution and 'survival sex.' It takes the active participation (in acts of sexual exploitation) of a lot of men to support the 'earnings' of these abandoned children.

Through formal prostitution and the exploitation of street children alone, many millions of men in Latin America have engaged sexually with underage children and youth. Voluntary relationships, including the many marriages of adult men to 14- and 15-year-old girls that occur, also fit largely outside of the construct of acceptability that the U.S. adheres to.

Some 65% of surveyed Latin American men, according to a 2006 International Labor Organization survey, see nothing wrong with having sex with children. When such men arrive in the United States, they often continue to sexually exploit underage girls. The girls that are targeted are typically age 10 and up.

This tragic scenario is reported upon daily in the U.S. press in the form of police reports about men pursuing children as they walk to school, or, far too often, as they simply try to use a bathroom at a retail store while shopping with mom.

This dynamic also forms the basis for fueling the burgeoning child sex trafficking industry that is rampant in residential urban and suburban brothels, and in farm labor camps that exist today in Latino population centers in almost every city, suburb and rural county in the U.S.

It would be a true stretch of the imagination for anyone to assert that immigrant men who became accustomed to exploiting young girls in Latin America all of a sudden loose interest in continuing to behave that way once they cross the U.S. border.

Because of a socially enforced cultural code of silence, and because the undocumented immigrant community in the U.S. lives largely in fear and in the shadows, few of these types of exploitation cases are ever brought to the attention of law enforcement.

At LibertadLatina, our efforts focus on  advocating for a strong response from society to these types of sexual exploitation. We want to see the trends reversed both across Latin America and in the industrialized nations where much of the Latin American migrant population lives.

At some point, our collective societies in the Americas will have to sit down and openly discuss this stark reality. The days of the Roman-era code of silence, that forced women and children to remain silent, and that forced entire societies to remain complicit in this behavior, are over.

A new day is dawning, and these behaviors will not be tolerated in the Americas, nor across the world.

End the exploitation of women and girls today!

End impunity now!

Chuck Goolsby


Dec. 21, 2009

See also:

Mexico: Más de un millón de menores se prostituyen en el centro del país: especialista

Expert: More than one million minors are sexually exploited in Central Mexico

Tlaxcala city, in Tlaxcala state - Around 1.5 million people in the central region of Mexico are engaged in prostitution, and some 75% of them are between 12 and 13 years of age, reported Teresa Ulloa, director of the Regional Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean...

La Jornada de Oriente

Sep. 26, 2007

See also:

In 2006, the International Labor Organization conducted a survey of adult attitudes in Mexico, Central America and South America, where it is quite easy to engage in sexual relations with children. 

Some 65% of respondents stated that they don't see any problem, and they don't feel any sort of conflict or fear in regard to having sex with boy and girl children, and "they don't feel there is anything wrong with doing it."

Contralinea Magazine

Oct. 22, 2007

See also:

[Many traditions from the Roman Empire were established in Latin America]...

Imperial Roman civil and common law for the elite citizen and Patrician classes (later carried over into Italian civil government)... stated that the free-born women of Rome give sexual consent at the onset at puberty or generally 12 years of age for marriage; or if ousted from the family due to dishonor of some sort give legal consent at a similar age to survive by prostitution...

Added: Dec. 22, 2009

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's Women’s Advocate and former judge Yvonne Feliciano.

Before being confirmed to her current position by the Congress of Puerto Rico in July of 2009, Feliciano recently retired from the Appellate Court of Puerto Rico, after 30 years on the bench. She was until recently a law professor at the Inter American University.

Lawmakers Plan to Lower Age of Consent From 16 to 14

The Permanent Joint Legislative Committee for the Continuous Revision of the Penal Code and for the Reform of Special Laws will lower the age for an individual to legally consent to have sexual relations from 16 to 14 years old, an idea endorsed Tuesday by Women’s Advocate Yvonne Feliciano, whose predecessor had lobbied to raise the age of consent.

Currently, any individual older than 16 who has sexual relations with a minor 16 and younger can be accused of statutory rape, which occurs when one participant is below the age of consent. Feliciano’s predecessor, Maria Dolores Fernos, had proposed raising the age of consent to 16 years old in the 2004 Penal Code, contending there was a high number of teenage pregnancies of girls between the ages of 14 to 16 by men who were much older.

Fernos at the time also said that the decision to establish the age of legal consent at 14 was done by men from “another time” who failed to see women’s potential to become professionals. She said that it was the state’s duty to protect young women and help them develop their potential...

New Progressive Party Rep. Liza Fernández and Popular Democratic Party Rep. Charlie Hernández noted that, right now, the courts have cases of 17 and 18-year-olds who are being prosecuted for having sex with 16-year-olds although sexual relations were consensual. Fernández said that she believes that 15-year-olds have sufficient knowledge about sex at their disposal to make decisions about sexual relations...

Hernández, who chaired the House Judiciary Committee when the 2004 Penal Code was being prepared, said he adamantly opposed raising the age of consent but was forced to agree because religious groups exerted pressure in the Senate. “These groups told senators that they were going to support the Penal Code if we raised the age of legal consent, something they did not do,” Hernández said. “This made our Penal Code one of the most backwards in all of Latin America.”

Disagreement on statute of limitations for some sexual crimes

The Penal Code panel, however, disagreed on whether to repeal the statute of limitations for certain sexual crimes. Feliciano asked to repeal the statute of limitations on sexual assault, lascivious acts, human trafficking, child pornography, possession and distribution of child pornography, using a minor in child pornography, promotion of child pornography, and transmitting obscene material or child pornography.

Hernández said he would be willing to broaden the statute of limitations but not repealing it. Currently, the only crimes that do not have statute of limitations are murder and crimes related to government corruption...

Hernández also noted he would be unable to defend himself if 30 years from now, someone accuses him of a crime because he would be unable to remember the events...

But Feliciano noted that individuals who suffered child abuse tend to accuse their alleged abusers years later. Some individuals share their experiences with a therapist when they are in their forties, she said. She also noted studies that show sexual offenders are very difficult to rehabilitate and most will commit these crimes again even after a conviction.

Eva Llorens

Puerto Rico Daily Sun

Dec. 2, 2009

See also:

Added: Dec. 22, 2009

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Proposal Would Lower Consent Age to 14

San Juan, Puerto Rico - Legislators are hoping to lower the age of sexual consent in Puerto Rico from 16 to 14, arguing that complaints from protective parents are overwhelming courts and teens should not be prosecuted for their sexual curiosity.

"Many children have faced criminal proceedings for experimenting with their sexuality," said local Rep. Charlie Hernandez, a sponsor of the legislation. "That to me seems outrageous."

The proposal would reverse a 2004 amendment making it illegal to have consensual sex with anyone under 16, the minimum age for marriage with parental blessing...

The proposal to lower the consent age faces stiff opposition from religious groups, who say it would lead to more pregnancies and an increase in single mothers struggling to raise a child.

"This is nothing but a plan to initiate minors into a sexual life," said Juan M. Gaud, a member of the Alliance of Christian Lawyers. "We are raising 14-year-olds to be mothers."

But the 14-year-old limit is backed by the head of the government Women's Advocate Office, Yvonne Feliciano, who says education is key to helping teens.

Rep. Liza Fernandez, co-president of the committee expected to endorse the change for consideration by the House and Senate, says parents too often file complaints that overwhelm courts when both teens consented to sex.

She said parents are out of touch who say girls ages 15 and 16 have no idea what they are doing when they agree to have sex.

"I don't know what world they're living in," she said. "They know what they are doing, even if it's irresponsible." ...

Sexual consent ages across the U.S. range from 16 to 18, while they are slightly lower throughout Latin America.

Puerto Rico's age of consent was 14 from 1978 until 2004.

The Associated Press

Dec. 04, 2009

See also:

Added: Dec. 22, 2009

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women - 2009

Puerto Rico

Protesters at the Puerto Rican Capitol rotunda

Women Activists ‘Seize’ Capitol in Peaceful Protest

The Greater Women’s Movement of Puerto Rico “seized” the Capitol’s rotunda Wednesday to protest government policies that they say promote female submission and violence toward women as part of the International No More Violence Against Women Day.

The women, who announced the protest to the media in an anonymous fashion, surreptitiously entered the Capitol with groups of tourists visiting the building and were even taking pictures. The Daily Sun recognized one of the women as Josefina Pantojas, a female activist, but she said she was there visiting and not as part of any protest.

At mid morning, three banners were hung from the rotunda’s second floor, starting the protest. The banners accused the [Republican Governor Luis] Fortuño administration of violating the separation of church and state and promoting policies that were dangerous to women. “The will of the people has been violated by continually disregarding the separation of church and state to promote a government discourse that discriminates against us, excludes us and violates us human beings,” said Amarilis Pagán, a spokeswoman for the group.

The group chastised the Fortuño government for wanting to repeal the Women’s Advocate Office and putting as advocate a woman, they said, who has not been more public and forward about the fact that 16 women have been killed this year in incidents of domestic abuse. Women’s Advocate Yvonne Feliciano said recently that she considers herself a “feminine person” and not a feminist...

The women held photos of different government officials and lawmakers and ripped them apart. They included photos of Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, whom they called a homophobic, New Progressive Party Sen. Kimmey Raschke, who wrote the adoption law giving married couples priority over single individuals as adoptive parents, and NPP Sen. Carmelo Ríos, who is promoting a bill that will have the effect of hurting women who get child support.

Asked about Fortuño’s Men Promise program, Pagán said the program comes from fundamentalist beliefs that women must be submissive and need protection from men...

Outside the Capitol, meanwhile, Aida Cruz Alicea, 60, wore a dark veil as part of a solo protest. She placed placards and 16 pairs of shoes symbolizing each of the women who have been killed this year. “Only by walking in their shoes will you know how they felt,” Cruz Alicea said.

...House Speaker Jenniffer González urged women who are victims of domestic abuse not to stay silent but to seek the available legal protections that are afforded them by law.

Puerto Rico Daily Sun

Nov. 26, 2009

See also:

Added: Dec. 22, 2009

Puerto Rico

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women - 2009

Puerto Rican journalist Firuzeh Shokooh Valle

Puerto Rico: Voices Against Violence

...Feminist activist Amárilis Pagán denounced in Brujas y Rebeldes [ES] the multi-dimensional aspects of violence perpetrated by the State.

"Estamos de pie ante un sistema de gobierno que se ha convertido en el principal agresor de las mujeres en Puerto Rico. De pie y resistiendo por nosotras y por otras poblaciones que son igualmente vulnerables. De la misma manera en que la violencia doméstica se trata de una cuestión de poder y control, la violencia actual del Estado en contra de las mujeres de la Isla es un asunto de poder y control matizado por una perspectiva acartonada de lo que son- y deben ser- las mujeres a la luz de una concepción judeo-cristiana de corte fundamentalista que se ha entronizado en la esfera gubernamental. Este 25 de noviembre, Día Internacional de No Más Violencia Hacia las Mujeres, es obligatorio hablar de la violencia hacia las nosotras en sus expresiones más amplias y profundas. Esa violencia no se limita a la violencia en relaciones de pareja (violencia doméstica) y es, en realidad, una violencia que se ha filtrado a través de muchas otras facetas de la vida de las mujeres. Pensar que la violencia doméstica es el único tipo de violencia que se inflige a las mujeres de la Isla es simplificar un asunto mucho más complejo."

"We are resisting a governmental system that has become the primary aggressor against women in Puerto Rico. We are resisting in order to defend ourselves and other vulnerable sectors of society. The same way in which domestic violence is an issue of power and control, state violence against women is also about power and control. In this case, it is framed by a limited vision of who women are, and are supposed to be, according to the Judeo-Christian fundamentalism that has invaded the government. This November 25, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, it is necessary to talk about the varied and profound ways in which violence is committed against us. This violence is not limited to violence perpetrated in intimate relationships (domestic violence). Other forms of violence have seeped through other facets of women’s lives. To believe that domestic violence is the only kind of violence inflicted on women in this Island is to simplify an issue that is much more complex."

Firuzeh Shokooh Valle

Global Voices

Nov. 25, 2009

See also:

Oficina de la Procuradora de las Mujeres (OPM)

Office of the Women's Advocate of Puerto Rico (In Spanish)

Added: Dec. 19, 2009


Niños y Niñas en Garras de Los Explotadores

Tegucigalpa - La desintegración familiar y la crisis económica han obligado a miles de niños y niñas hondureños a abandonar sus hogares, mientras otros han decidido marcharse al extranjero.

Niños y niñas se marchan del país exponiéndose en la ruta de los indocumentados a los peligros del camino como son: Asaltos, el esclavismo sexual y hasta la muerte.

Se estima que en los últimos meses unos 8,000 infantes han salido del país con rumbo a países de Norteamérica, donde son víctimas de la explotación sexual comercial...

Children Live in the Claws of Their Exploiters

Tegucigalpa - Family disintegration and the economic crisis have forced thousand of Honduran boys and girls to leave their homes. Some of them have decided to migrate beyond the nation's borders.

Children leave Honduras to travel along the 'trail of the undocumented,' where they are exposed to dangers such as assault, sexual slavery and even death.

Migrant shelters all along the border between Mexico and the United States are reporting that an estimated 8,000 underage Hondurans have come to their facilities in recent months. Unfortunately, many of them had fallen into child prostitution and labor exploitation. Others had been fortunate to have returned safely to their homes after having been caught in police roundups and then deported...

Many children are forced to leave home due to parental cruelty. Parents in these cases don’t  provide even the most fundamental necessities to their children, such as food, clothing and education. To the contrary, they subject their children to abuse and scorn.

Diverse forms of exploitation

Adolescents and youth who leave their homes are seduced by adults who submerge them little by little into a world of drugs and prostitution. On the streets of the capital [Tegucigalpa], [and in the major north cities of] San Pedro Sula and the Ceiba, among others, groups of children high on hallucinogens can be observed or waiting for ‘customers’ on the corner.

The forms of child prostitution range from an exchange of sex for drugs or food, to being a response to extortion, as criminals threaten to murder their parents of they do not agree to be prostituted.

The problem of the sexual exploitation of Children is on the increase. Now, specialized pimps exist who are not easily detected by the authorities. They spend their time in shopping centers offering to take photographs of young, virgin girls. When they find one who is interested, they 'pay them in advance,' and then taken to hotels or apartments.

The public prosecutor’s office (MP) recently discovered a case where underage girls were taken to an apartment, where ‘customers,’ preferably foreigners, who pay in dollars or euros, arrived to have sex with them.

Full English Translation

La Tribuna - Honduras

Dec. 11, 2009

See also:

Sex Tourism Plagues Central America

Before leaving their rooms at the Parthenon Beach Hotel in the northern Honduran city of La Ceiba, two men reread information they had downloaded from the Internet before leaving home in Illinois. Then they walked two blocks east to a club featuring young nude dancers.

"We're informed consumers," one of them jokingly quipped.

Prepared by the Internet to know which girls at the club would provide the best sex and at what prices, the two are part of a new generation of technology-equipped sex tourists who travel South to exploit young women pushed by chronic poverty into prostitution.

Elsewhere in the world -- in countries from Thailand to Cuba -- sex tourism is experiencing difficulties as international pressure, including lobbying from church groups, has convinced governments to crack down on child abuse, particularly the near enslavement of young women in the sex industry.

In Central America, post-war political stability has brought a rush of outsiders seeking rain forests, pristine beaches and Mayan ruins, yet poverty and weak judicial systems have also created an environment where foreign men can easily and inexpensively fulfill their fantasies. An entire subculture consisting of North Americans buying and selling children for sex has developed...

Children are the victims

The victims of sex tourism are children, their dreams still intact.

Juanita Meneses, 16, works at a bar not far from the Parthenon Beach Hotel in La Ceiba. Fleeing poverty and an inhospitable home life, she left her home near San Pedro Sula last year and joined two other young women to travel north to the United States. The three only made it to southern Mexico, where they were robbed and deported to Guatemala. Without other alternatives, they worked as prostitutes along the Guatemalan-Mexican border until they were caught and deported to Honduras.

Ms. Meneses didn't want to return home. Instead, she came to La Ceiba and works from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily, dancing nude and getting drunk men to buy her drinks, for which she receives a small cut. Ms. Meneses makes more if she accepts a man's invitation to return to his hotel room. She said foreigners pay much better than local men.

"I always dreamed I'd grow up to be a mother, maybe learn a lot and get a job as a teacher," Mr. Meneses said. "Maybe I still will. For now, I can't think of any alternatives. I've got to stay here for now."

Paul Jeffrey

Paul Jeffrey is a United Methodist missionary in Central America. He lives outside Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Response Magazine

United Methodist Women

March 2000

See also:

Carly and Richard Cantrell (center) with a few of their young Honduran charges

The Thin Blue Line Ministries' Work in Honduras

During a recent tour through Illinois Valley, a couple from Phoenix, Arizona shared the story of how their ministry to help victims of sexual abuse and trauma has spurred them to relocate to Central America.

Former Illinois Valley resident Carly Cantrell and her husband, Richard, for the past two years have been involved with Thin Blue Line Ministries’ Phoenix House orphanage, which provides a sanctuary for trafficked children in Tegucigalpa, Honduras...

Michelle Binker

Illinois Valley News

July 15, 2009

See also:

LibertadLatina Special Section

About the Crisis of Sexual Exploitation and Impunity Facing Women and Children in Honduras

Added: Dec. 19, 2009

Texas, USA

Brownsville Couple Sentenced for Smuggling Aliens for Prostitution

A local hotel was used as the headquarters for the prostitution criminal enterprise

Brownsville, Texas - A local man and woman were sentenced Wednesday for their roles in smuggling illegal aliens into the United States for purposes of prostitution. The sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Juan Luis Coronado, aka Hernandez, 37, and Lee Ann Zieger, 40, both of Brownsville were sentenced to 87 months and 24 months, respectively, for their roles in a scheme to illegally bring in aliens for purposes of prostitution. The sentences were imposed by U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle at Wednesday's hearing.

Coronado pleaded guilty on Sept. 9 to one count of attempting to import a minor alien for prostitution purposes. In addition to the more than seven-year term of imprisonment, Judge Tagle ordered Coronado to serve a three-year term of supervised release...

Coronado previously admitted to directing a prostitute to work for him in order to bring a 14-year-old minor from Mexico to work for him as a prostitute in October 2008. He also admitted to bringing in and managing at least two other alien prostitutes. Zieger took on many roles in this case. She was in charge of transporting, recruiting providing food and clothing, and collecting money from the prostitutes on at least one occasion. In total, the prostitution ring involved more than five people, which was considered by the court in determining the ultimate sentence imposed on Coronado...

The case resulted from a 14-month investigation conducted by ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Leonardo, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.


Dec. 17, 2009

Added: Dec. 19, 2009

California, USA

Suspect is filmed by security cameras loitering on a street corner

Suspect is filmed approaching his ten-year-old victim, who was walking to school

Child Sex Assault Suspect Sought

Los Angeles (myFOXla.com) - Police today circulated newly found surveillance video of a sexual assault suspect who has been preying on 9- and 10-year-old girls in the Westlake district since last year.

The suspect is described as Hispanic, 25-45 years old, about 5 feet 7 inches and 160 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

Police believe the man has approached at least four young girls, each time in the morning as they walked alone. He started a conversation, then tried to sexually assault them, police said.

The latest crime, involving a 10-year-old girl, occurred about 7:20 a.m. on Nov. 4, police said. The youngster was heading to school near Beverly Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue when she was approached, police said.

He engaged the girl in a conversation, then lured her into an apartment building in the 100 block of South Commonwealth Avenue and took her to the roof and tried to sexually assault her...

Similar crimes believed to have been committed by the suspect occurred on July 10 of this year and on Feb. 29 and April 30 of last year, police said.

Rewards of $75,000 have been offered for information leading to the arrest of the suspect...

Anyone with more information about the suspect was asked to call Robbery- Homicide detectives at (213) 486-6910 during normal office hours, or (877) LAPD-24-7 around the clock.

[This article includes over 3 minutes of video footage of suspect approaching the victim.]


Dec. 15, 2009

Added: Dec. 19, 2009

California, USA

Jose Mendoza

Man Sought in Shooting, Kidnapping

A manhunt is on for a Redding man with ties to Trinity County suspected of shooting another man in the head Monday night in a rampage that started on Halloween when he reportedly abducted and raped his estranged wife, the Redding Police Department said.

Jose Felipe Jesus Mendoza, 48, is wanted in the shooting of his wife's boyfriend, Redding Police Sgt. Bruce Bonner said.

Mendoza is said to have entered the south Redding apartment of Allen J. Moresette, 59, on Radio Lane Monday night and shot him twice in the head with a small-caliber handgun. Mendoza then fled on foot. He was identified by people at the scene who witnessed the shooting...

Moresette has undergone surgery and is expected to survive, Bonner said.

Police were already looking for Mendoza, who abducted his estranged wife from in front of her work, with numerous witnesses, on Oct. 31, Bonner said. He held her for more than 24 hours, taking her to a wooded area in Trinity County and allegedly raping her. He drove her back to Redding after she convinced him she would stay with him, Bonner said. "At the first opportunity she fled on foot." ...

He should be considered armed and dangerous, Redding police said in a news release...

People with information about his possible location should call police investigators at 530-225-4214 or Secret Witness at 530-243-2319.

Trinity Journal

Dec. 02, 2009

Added: Dec. 19, 2009

California, USA

Recendes to Stand Trial for 2002 Rape, Beating

A gold necklace and a single hair allegedly link a Palo Alto man to the 2002 brutal sexual assault and beating of a 94-year-old woman, and together they provide sufficient evidence to try Roberto Recendes for the crimes, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Thang Nguyen Barrett ruled Friday.

Recendes, 41, also known as Roberto Recendes Cruz in court papers, will stand trial for one count of sexual penetration by force and one count of abuse of an elder or dependent likely to cause great bodily harm or death.

An "enhancement" allegation of committing the sexual assault with great bodily injury during a burglary is included, Barrett said. If convicted, Recendes could receive a 25-years-to-life prison sentence...

Recendes is accused of breaking into the woman's assisted-living apartment at Palo Alto Commons on El Camino Real in south Palo Alto on May 10, 2002, through an unlocked sliding-glass door. He allegedly beat and raped the woman while committing a burglary...

Christine Setterlund, a sexual assault response team (SART) nurse at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, testified the woman sustained bruises and abrasions over much of her body: her lips, chest wall, lower abdomen, both knees and inner thigh. There was significant trauma to her left arm, and to her pelvic region, and the pelvic injuries were consistent with rape, she said...

Recendes was convicted of domestic violence [against his former common-law wife Artemia Garcia] and sent to prison in July 2004. He was paroled in 2006 and deported to Mexico. As a convicted felon, he was required to provide a DNA sample upon his release from prison, which was later entered into a database, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Brian Welch.

The sample was found to match with the crime-scene DNA [from the current case] a few months after his deportation, Welch said.

After a manhunt, Recendes was arrested in Mexico in December 2007 and extradited several months later to Los Angeles. He was returned to Palo Alto and arrested on Aug. 20, 2008...

Palo Alto Online

Dec. 05/07, 2009

Added: Dec. 19, 2009

California, USA

U.S. Border Patrol Blotter: Dec. 10-16, 2009

Dec. 15, 2009 - El Centro Sector – Border Patrol agents arrested an illegal alien from Mexico near Thousand Palms, California. Records checks revealed he was the subject of an active arrest warrant for rape using a gun in the State of Utah.

Dec. 15, 2009 - El Paso Sector – Border Patrol agents arrested a national of Cuba near Truth or Consequen-ces, New Mexico. Records checks revealed the subject had a prior conviction for criminal sexual penetration, and an active arrest warrant for failure to register as a sex offender in the State of New Mexico.

Dec. 13, 2009 - Tucson Sector – Border Patrol agents arrested an illegal alien from Mexico near Nogales, Arizona. Records checks revealed the subject had a prior conviction for sex with a minor in the State of California and had been previously removed from the United States.

Dec. 11, 2009 - El Centro Sector – Border Patrol agents arrested an illegal alien from Mexico near Calexico, California. Records checks revealed the subject had a prior conviction for rape by force, lewd acts with a child under 14, and had been previously removed from the United States.

Dec. 10, 2009 - Tucson Sector – Border Patrol agents arrested an illegal alien from Mexico near Ajo, Arizona. Records checks revealed the subject had a prior conviction for rape/carnal knowledge of a child under 14, and had been previously removed from the United States.

U.S. Border Patrol Blotter: Dec. 3-9, 2009

Dec. 9, 2009 - Tucson Sector – Border Patrol agents arrested an illegal alien from Mexico near Eloy, Arizona. Records checks revealed the subject had prior arrests for rape, kidnapping and sodomy with force, and was a registered sex offender in the State of California. The subject had also been previously removed from the United States.

Dec. 8, 2009 - El Paso Sector – Border Patrol agents arrested an illegal alien from Mexico near Fort Hancock, Texas. Records checks revealed the subject had a prior conviction for indecency with a child in the State of Texas and had been previously removed from the United States.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

Dec. 9 and Dec. 16, 2009

Added: Dec. 18, 2009

Michael R. Bloomberg's Office Explains What They are Doing to Fight Human Trafficking

New York, USA

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

To the New York Times Editor,

[The recent New York Times Article] “Sex Trafficking Arrests Are Few, Despite Laws” (news article, Dec. 4) highlights the limits of legislation - and the need for more effective enforcement. In New York City, we are attacking the problem by enlisting everyone who may be able to intervene.

For instance, we are training workers at our Family Justice Centers, which support victims of domestic violence, to identify possible victims of trafficking. We are enlisting other service providers, as well as law enforcement personnel, by creating a comprehensive resource directory.

We are involving the public through a new ad campaign that will raise awareness about trafficking. And perhaps most important, we are asking judges to use their leverage in the sentencing process to ensure that more tragically exploited victims are provided with the critically important support services they need.

We recognize that there is still much to do in the fight against human trafficking, and reading your heartbreaking report only hardens our resolve.

John Feinblatt

New York City

Dec. 8, 2009

The writer is Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s criminal justice coordinator.

The New York Times

Letters to the Editor

See also:

Prostituted Youth in New York City: An Overview

From a detailed 2001 ECPAT-USA report on child prostitution in New York City

...Susan Breault of the Paul and Lisa Program estimates that there are roughly five thousand youth and children in prostitution in New York City.

...The Paul and Lisa Program [notes] that the average entering age of prostitutes has decreased from fourteen to thirteen or even twelve years of age in recent years. Also, many girls physically mature between the ages of twelve to thirteen and are prime candidates for the sex trade.

According to Laura Italiano, reporting on the scene in East New York, Brooklyn, "the youngest girls are so popular, their customers cause traffic jams."

A twenty-year-old veteran prostitute in the area estimated that half of the girls in the renowned child prostitute tracks in East New York and Long Island City, Queens are between the ages of thirteen to fifteen.

NYPD Detectives Jim Held and Kevin Mannion also believe that the average age of street prostitutes in New York is only fourteen or fifteen. Since the average age for starting out is between twelve and thirteen, there are youth that start even younger...

Mia Spangenberg



See also:

LibertadLatina Commentary

An excerpt of our Dec. 14th/16th commentary about New York City's need to bring resources to bear on modern human trafficking - LL

The November 24, 2009 rescue in Brooklyn, New York of an enslaved young Mexican woman who was raped, prostituted, tortured, beaten with bricks, and who was forced by her enslavers to let her sick baby die, is a case that must outrage everyone with a conscience...

Several years ago I was invited to speak before a student group, Latinas United for Justice, at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. I presented the issues described on this web site before a body of mostly Latina students and professors for over two hours, and engaged in a lot of positive discussion with them.

After the event was over, a Latina graduate student told me that she had been a New York City cab driver before going back to school. She told me that much of her cab business, and that of all cab drivers in the city, centered around transporting men who were seeking out "los bayú," a slang term for brothels. This student told me that these clandestine brothels were "everywhere" in Manhattan, that she had fares all day long to go to these locations, and that all of the local cab drivers knew where they were. She also said that she knew that the women in these brothels were not there of their own free will.

If cab drivers know this, then the police, who protect cabbies and talk to them every day, also know it.

So what is the holdup?

You are asking the victims to make a call to the police, Mayor Bloomberg?

That is a laudable goal.

Unfortunately, brothel managers who beat their victims with bricks are not going to let them near a phone. Beyond that, the victim often just 'got off the boat' from Mexico, so they don't even know what "911" is.

Several recent news articles about sex slavery in New York indicate that some police officers do not know that laws against human trafficking exist. A Queens district attorney declined to state for a reporter how human trafficking cases were being prosecuted  (see below). A Dec. 13, 2009 article, reprinted here in abstract form from the Kansas City Star, Despite US Laws, Thousands Still Virtual Slaves in America, reports that despite the existence of a powerful federal anti-trafficking law, little is really being done to find and rescue the majority of U.S. victims of human trafficking, and especially those who are crossing the U.S. / Mexican border.

We agree with that analysis.

Together with several fellow independent anti-trafficking activists with whom we collaborate across the U.S., the common theme that we have all observed is that the rhetoric of anti-trafficking, and the funding for task forces and other tools of law enforcement and victim assistance are great. But on the ground, in the real world, things are not so rosy. These activists have approached federal and local law enforcement agencies time and again with solid evidence of real child and adult trafficking cases, only to be turned away...

I recall that when the Internet first came into its own in the late 1990s, one of the first articles that I had read on human trafficking noted that, "Eight-year-old girls are being trafficked from Veracruz, Mexico into the basement brothels of New York City." That was true in the late 1990s, and it is true today in late 2009.

Mayor Bloomberg, it is your responsibility to send your police department into those thousands of 'mom and pop' immigrant slave brothels in New York City and rescue those women, adolescents and children from the hell that they endure.....

End impunity now!

Chuck Goolsby


Dec. 14/16, 2009

See our complete commentary below

See also:

Added: Dec. 19, 2009

New York, USA

The Issue of the Underground Sex Trade

Sex trafficking is rampant in New York City and the numbers are growing. The U.S. Department of State has determined that NYC’s JFK airport is a “major entry point” for the trafficking in human beings (2002). In 2004 the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that between 14,500 and 17,500 men, women and children are trafficked into the United States every year. About 80% of trafficking victims are female and 40-66% of those trafficked into the U.S. come from Asia and the Pacific Rim.

The sex industries in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens range from street prostitution to strip clubs, peep booth shows, massage parlors, bars, private apartments, and escort services. Contrary to popular belief, a woman does not simply decide to become a “prostitute.” Rather, she often finds herself trafficked as a result of economic deprivation, coercion of some sort and a history of sexual abuse.

Survivors suffer a range of psychological problems and physical ills. While there is a great need for effective services caring for women rescued from sex trafficking in New York City, there is currently no organization solely providing long-term holistic aftercare services and housing for international women escaping sex trafficking.


Added: Dec. 17, 2009

From a Series by the Kansas City Star

The United States

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Changing Views: Government Promises Action

Solutions to human trafficking are difficult, necessary

The Obama administration is weeks away from announcing a new surge - this one aimed at escalating the war on human trafficking in America.

“In January we are going to be announcing a major set of initiatives,” Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, told The Kansas City Star.

Napolitano disclosed the administration’s plans at the conclusion of The Star’s six-month investigation exposing numerous failures in America’s anti-trafficking battle.

Although details of the plan were not released, advocates and other experts said they’re cautiously optimistic that this is the best chance in years to address many of the problems revealed in the newspaper’s five-part series. They’re also hopeful that the administration, which has reached out to them and asked what changes are needed, will correct structural flaws in the broken system.

“It is time to go back to the drawing board and promote a more seamless, coordinated plan,” said Florrie Burke, a nationally known advocate for trafficking victims.

Other experts said it’s also time for congressional oversight hearings on the flagging decade-long struggle, and time to centralize an anti-trafficking effort that is thinly spread across a vast bureaucracy plagued by inter-agency wrangling and a lack of coordination.

Others contend what’s also needed is a top-to-bottom overhaul of ineffective immigration policies that infuriate those on both sides of the politically charged debate.

“The series that ran this week in The Star is a horrible reminder of the price of codes without compassion or common sense,” said U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat. “In our quest to make our borders unbreakable and our laws unforgiving we have driven some of the most poor and desperate seeking the promise of America into unthinkable situations.”

Kansas state Rep. Mike Slattery, a Mission Democrat, said reading the series convinced him that changes across the system are desperately needed.

“It has been on people’s radar on the federal level,” Slattery said. “Yet there seems to be no coordinated effort to make things better…I think it’s about making this a priority.” ...

Experts told The Star that the federal government needs to concentrate on core issues, such as reaching a consensus on how to define human trafficking. They include Launching initiatives to find more victims, better trained police officers and public information campaigns... aimed at new arrivals and U.S. citizens.

Mark Morris, Mike Mcgraw And Laura Bauer

The Kansas City Star

Dec. 16, 2009

See also:

From Part IV of a Series by the Kansas City Star

Experts Offer Ideas to Address Trafficking

...Mark Lagon, Former State Department anti-trafficking czar and now CEO of the Polaris Project, a nonprofit that combats human trafficking, and runs the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hot line (1-888-373-7888):

“Victims of human trafficking should be afforded basic rights. Government should provide access to comprehensive social and legal services for all victims, without limitations based on gender, citizenship or documented status, language skills, age, or type of trafficking.

“Too often, victims of human trafficking are blamed for their circumstances and are detained and punished. A victim-centered approach needs to be a reality of deeds as well as words.

The Kansas City Star

Dec. 16, 2009

Added: Dec. 16, 2009

About the Kansas City Star's Special Reporting on Latin American to U.S. Human Trafficking:

For six months Kansas City Star reporters traveled the world, from Guatemalan migrant shelters to the deadly streets of Tijuana, investigating America's war against human trafficking.

They found that America is losing the battle - even in its own backyard. In fact, Kansas City is an emerging hub of human trafficking activity.

Added: Dec. 16, 2009

The United States, Mexico, Guatemala

From Part IV of a Series by the Kansas City Star

Some suspected victims, in violation of U.S. policy, are being deported on government-run airlines based in Kansas City

Also in Part IV:

Hostage House, Part 4: Armed Men, Just Outside the Door

...A total of 60 immigrants are in the house. All controlled by the traffickers.

The niece is getting up as she hears the commotion downstairs.
La migra, she thinks. Immigration.

But at this point, eight months pregnant, she doesn’t care.

Just get us out of here.
After 10 months in this house, she doesn’t care if she’s sent back to Central America. She just wants to be free again. Anywhere.

Amid the tumult, a Spanish-speaking man walks through the house trying to calm everyone.
Don’t worry, relax, he tells them in Spanish. What we are doing is to help you guys out.

For many of the immigrants, this next part - where federal agents question them and sift traffickers from possible victims — is almost as scary as what they’ve already gone through.

Traffickers warned them about this day. Their words still resonate:

If you ever speak, we’ll catch you.

We know your family, we know where they live, they will pay the consequences.

They will send you back. We know people at immigration.

So many of them stay silent. Can they trust these uniformed agents? These men with guns telling them what to do? In their home countries, police are often part of the corruption.

Scared and confused, they can’t know that the raid is part of a three-year human smuggling investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Authorities will soon have three of the traffickers under arrest...

Laura Bauer

The Kansas City Star

Dec. 15, 2009

Added: Dec. 15, 2009

Utah, USA

Man Expected to Plead Guilty to Assaulting Boy in Burger King

A West Valley City man charged with sexually assaulting a young boy in a Burger King bathroom plans to plead guilty.
Jorge D. Gutierrez-Ortiz, 44, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday in 3rd District Court.

Defense attorney Jason Poppleton said his client plans to plead guilty to first-degree felony attempted sodomy on a child, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

In exchange for the plea, Gutierrez-Ortiz would no longer face first-degree felony sodomy on a child or a child kidnapping charge in connection with the incident.

Police said Gutierrez-Ortiz walked into the bathroom of the Burger King at 5600 West and 3500 South the evening of Aug. 15. Soon after, a 7-year-old boy entered the restaurant with his mother and sibling. As his mother ordered, the boy went into the bathroom.

When the child tried to leave, Gutierrez-Ortiz blocked his way and assaulted him in a bathroom stall, according to charging documents.
Gutierrez-Ortiz then left, passing by the boy's mother as he exited the restaurant. The child came out of the restroom, told his mother about the attack, and she called police.

Stephen Hunt

The Salt Lake Tribune

Dec. 01, 2009

Added: Dec. 15, 2009

Texas, USA

New Details On Capture of SMU Rape Suspects

Dallas - There are new developments in the abduction and rape of a Southern Methodist University (SMU) student this past weekend.
Dallas police arrested the first suspect on Saturday, just hours after the incident; two others were taken into custody on Wednesday.

Police say it was a combination of missteps by the suspects and sharp police work that has the community breathing a sigh of relief.
"We actually caught one of the suspects with the sexual assault complainant's cell phone on Saturday," explained Lt. Eno Fite, Dallas Police. "However, it wasn't until the other day that we had concrete proof and were able to charge him."

The three arrested are Alfonso Zuniga, 28; Luis Zuniga, 26; and 28-year-old Arturo Arevalo. All are now charged with the kidnapping and brutal rape of the SMU coed.

While witnesses and friends of the victim were able to get a precise description of the suspects' sport utility vehicle, it was the Luis Zuniga who was quickly captured while using the victim's cell phone. Zuniga, 26, who is married and, according to an affidavit in the case, lives with his mother-in-law on Red Bud Drive. It was the SMU student's cell phone that police traced to Red Bud Drive...

Two of the the three suspects have bonds set at $1 million each; bond for the third is pending.

Brett Shipp and Jason Whitely


Dec. 10/11, 2009

Added: Dec. 16, 2009

California, USA

286 Arrested in ICE's Largest Ever Enforcement Surge Targeting Criminal Aliens

Los Angeles - Nearly 300 foreign nationals with criminal records have been removed from the United States or are facing deportation following a three-day enforcement surge in California, making it the biggest operation targeting at large criminal aliens ever carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

...More than 80 percent of the criminal aliens taken into custody had prior convictions for serious or violent crimes, such as rape by force, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Also included in the group are 30 convicted sex offenders, many whose crimes involved sexual assaults on children. Of those arrested, at least 100 have already been removed from the country.

...The arrestees, 257 men and 29 women, represent more than 30 different nations, including countries in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, at least 17 of those arrested during the enforcement surge will face further federal prosecution for reentering the country illegally after a formal deportation. A conviction for felony re-entry carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Among the arrestees... facing [federal] felony re-entry charges is Ignacio Camacho-Madrigal, 43, a Mexican national formerly convicted of committing a lewd act on a child under 14. Camacho-Madrigal was arrested by ICE Dec. 8 in Rialto, California...


Dec.15, 2009

Added: Dec. 16, 2009

Puerto Rico

6 Alleged Kidnapping Conspirators of 13-year-old Girl Now in Federal Custody

[...On Dec. 4th, 2009, the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) requested ICE's assistance following the Dec. 2 kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl.]

ICE and PRPD approached the residence where they suspected the girl was being held prisoner by her kidnappers. They noticed a young female matching the description of the kidnapped girl; however, her face was covered with what appeared to be duct tape.

Officers rescued the victim and arrested a man who was also in the house.

[Ernesto Sanchez-Benjamin, 30, Jean E. Colon Aleman, 20, Joan Martinez Jimenez, 21, a national of the Dominican Republic, Ismael Reyes Sierra, 24, Kevin Bonilla Alvarado, 24, and Hilario Morel, 19 have been detained in the case.]

"The allegations against these men are very serious and, if convicted, they can face a sentence of life in prison," said Roberto Escobar Vargas, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in San Juan. "ICE special agents, with the assistance of PRPD, and in record time, arrested six individuals allegedly involved in the kidnapping of a minor. We are committed to the safety of the most vulnerable segment of our society - our children."


Dec.15, 2009

Added: Dec. 16, 2009

New Jersey, USA

DNA Tests Clear Man in Parsippany Rape Case

DNA tests have cleared a man of involvement in the sexual assault of two teenagers in a Parsippany motel room in 2001 but he admitted to a judge Monday that he helped harbor his brother - the actual rape suspect.

Kendal G. Franco-Vargas, 29, of Trenton, was arrested in early September under the mistaken belief he was one of two men wanted for the alleged sexual assaults of two females, then 16 and 17, in the Tomac Motor Lodge overnight between May 12 and May 13, 2001.

Police in September believed that Franco-Vargas was actually Shon (John) "Fernando" Cordon, living in Trenton under the assumed name of Luis Rivera.

Several weeks ago, DNA tests cleared Franco-Vargas, according to Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi and Parsippany Police Chief Michael Peckerman. In Superior Court, Morristown, on Monday, Franco-Vargas admitted that he hindered the prosecution and apprehension of his brother - the real John Cordon - knowing he was wanted for aggravated sexual assault...

A suspected illegal alien from Guatemala, Franco-Vargas also admitted to identity theft...

His plea agreement with the county Prosecutor's Office calls for him to be sentenced next week to time served - the four months he spent in the county jail since his arrest. Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have filed a detainer against him so that when he is released from jail, he will be picked up by ICE to appear for a deportation hearing.

John Cordon is still at large, as is his alleged co-defendant in the motel rape case, identified in court papers as Ruben "Hector" Vargas, now 39.

Peggy Wright


Dec. 14, 2009

Added: Dec. 15, 2009

The United States, Mexico, Guatemala

"The most valuable commodity we export is humans and they are being exploited," says Rigoberta Menchu, a Guatemalan [Mayan human rights leader] who won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. She spoke at her home near Guatemala City as armed guards provided security outside.

From a Kansas City Star's 79 photo gallery on human trafficking's impact in Guatemala

Photo: Keith Myers The Kansas City Star

From Pat III of a Series by the Kansas City Star

Hostage House, Part 3: Family link offers solace — and peril

On her seventh attempt [the young woman made it across the Mexican border into the U.S. in the hands of the same coyotes who had taken her aunt on the journey years before].

She had no idea, though, that her aunt would be waiting for her in this house full of immigrants [in the U.S. Southwest, where coyote traffickers keep their customers hostage until families pay surprise, new fees announced at the end of the trip as ransom] . Back home, they all figured she had reached America and taken that good job in Boston.

The niece is standing in a bedroom just like her aunt years before. There are guns in the room. Not surprisingly, she too was part of a “special trip” and more money is now required.

This time, it’s $2,500.

She can’t pay. Neither can her male friend in America who has already made a down payment for her.

She is young and attractive, the kind of woman these traffickers like to keep around the house. She makes the same deal as her aunt. She will work it off over time cooking and cleaning...

Two months after she arrives, the niece gets pregnant. She tells her aunt but leaves out one dark secret.

She has been raped by one of the traffickers and continues to be assaulted. The baby is his.

By this time, it’s becoming clear to the men that these women know each other. They share an obvious bond the others don’t. They’re both from the same town in Central America. And they’re always close.

This new wrinkle worries the niece.

If her aunt knows she was raped, the men may think they need to kill her.

The father of the niece’s unborn child is determined. He wants to get rid of the baby. He threatens her often and this, more than anything they’ve seen in the house, terrorizes the women.

At one point, he tries to push the niece down the stairs of the two-story house. In the struggle, her aunt jumps in to protect her. She is viciously shocked on the back with a stun gun, but it is enough of a distraction to stop the attacker.

For the women, the baby is their whole world — innocent, a symbol of hope for the future.

But the man and his fellow traffickers have other plans. If they can’t abort the child in her belly, then they’ll murder both of them before the baby is born. They’ll cut them up in pieces and dump them in the trash that’s picked up every Tuesday.

No one will ever know you’re dead, they say...

[To be continued in a future article...]

Laura Bauer

The Kansas City Star

Dec. 14, 2009

LibertadLatina note

Hundreds of these 'safe houses,' used to hold migrants who had paid coyote smugglers to cross into the U.S., exist in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The two or three thousand dollar fee (or $8,000 if you are coming, say, from Chile to the U.S.) charged by smugglers is now not enough to satisfy their greed. They have discovered that they can kidnap their own customers and demand ransom from their families. When the ransom is not paid, they are murdered.

President Obama and Attorney General Holder, it goes without saying that this system of smuggling 'safe houses' (safe for coyotes to rape and murder women, children and men with impunity)... needs to be shut down today!

End impunity now!

Chuck Goolsby


Dec. 15, 2009

See also:

Part III of the series

America’s intricate, fraud-plagued work visa program is a welcome mat for modern-day slavers.

The Kansas City Star

Dec. 15, 2009

Upcoming Kansas City Star special sections on the crisis of human trafficking:

- Dec. 16, 2009: Some suspected victims, in violation of U.S. policy, are being deported on government-run airlines based in Kansas City.

- Dec. 17, 2009: A new approach is needed, and changes are coming.

Added: Dec. 15, 2009


En declive los derechos humanos de las mujeres durante 2009

Nombramiento de Arturo Chávez Chávez y Raúl Plascencia, amenazas para los DH

México, DF - En 2009, tres sucesos marcaron graves retrocesos en los derechos humanos de las mujeres: La penalización del aborto en casi la mitad del territorio nacional y el cambio de titulares en la PGR y CNDH.

Human Rights for Women Suffered Reversals During 2009

The Appointments of Attorney General Arturo Chávez Chávez and Human Rights Commission chairman Raul Plascencia, pose threats to women’s human rights in Mexico

Mexico City - During 2009, three events marked serious setbacks in the human rights of the women: The passage of anti-abortion laws [denying and criminalizing the use of abortion even for rape or incest] in almost half of the nation’s territory [17 of 31 states], and the change confirmation of a new attorney general and a new head of the National Human Rights Commission.

[Further translation of this article is upcoming -LibertadLatina]

Anayeli Garci'a Martinez and Paulina Rivas Ayala

CIMAC Noticias

News for Women

Dec. 14, 2009

Added: Dec. 14, 2009

Georgia, USA

Atlanta en Alerta por Tráfico Humano

Esta ciudad es un punto importante, donde los más traficados son latinos. 

Las autoridades federales tienen la mirada puesta en Atlanta porque se ha convertido en un puerto a donde llegan mujeres, hombres y niños -la mayoría de Latinoamérica- a servir como mercancía.

"Atlanta es una de las ciudades de EE.UU. donde hay más víctimas del tráfico humano", aseguró Alia, coordinadora del programa de tráfico humano de la organización local Tapestri…

Atlanta on Alert for Human Trafficking

Latin Americans are the majority of victims

Federal authorities have focused special attention on Atlanta because it has become a port-of-entry where newly arriving women, children and men, the majority of them from Latin America, are sold as merchandise.

“Atlanta has one of the largest populations of trafficking victims in the U.S.,” says Alia, the coordinator of the human trafficking program of the local organization Tapestri…

Alia emphasized that the largest group of trafficking victims in Georgia are Latin Americans, especially women and girls. This is due to Georgia’s high population of Latinos.

“It is [easy] to traffic in Latinos, and to have them blend-in with the population, which makes them more difficult to discover,” said Alia.

According to Alia, significant numbers of victims arrive from Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Guatemala. The majority of victims in Georgia are from Mexico.

Those in highest demand are women and girls. “Close to 80% of victims are female, and half of those are underage girls,” added Alia.

Alia explained that trafficking networks exist all over Georgia, but that Gwinnett, Dekalb and Fulton counties have the largest problems.

According to Alia, forced labor and forced prostitution are the most common forms of human trafficking in the state.

Forced labor occurs in business as well as in homes, where domestic workers and babysitters are the victims.

In the case of forced prostitution, many young women are tricked into coming here. There are cases where the traffickers pretend to fall in love with the victims, and they convince them to move to the U.S. so that they can make money for their families. They are not told how they will make that money. Upon arriving in the U.S., these young women are forced to prostitute themselves in apartments, bars and Latin restaurants.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun a public awareness campaign to inform people about the horrors of human trafficking.

Iván Ortiz, ICE spokesman in the Atlanta region, explained that his office works with other law enforcement agencies to dismantle the global criminal infrastructure of human trafficking. In addition, they work with nongovernmental organizations to identify, rescue and provide services to victims.

Human trafficking is severely punished by the federal government. “Anyone who is involved in human trafficking will be prosecuted, and they may be sentenced up to life in prison” notes Alia. In 2008 126 people were convicted for human trafficking in the U.S., according the ICE.

About the “T” visa

Victims often do not seek help because they do not understand their legal rights, and they fear being arrested and deported. This fear is encouraged by their kidnappers, says Ortiz. Traffickers will do anything possible to hide their victims, and they prohibit contact with the outside world.

Despite these fears, [the federal government offers] a “T” visa for victims of human trafficking, if they cooperate with the authorities in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers.

The “T” visa allows a person to remain in the U.S. for up-to 4 years, and gives them the ability to apply for legal permanent residence.

Mundo Hispano


Dec. 10, 2009

Added: Dec. 14, 2009

The United States

Part One of a Series

Despite U.S. Laws, Thousands Still Virtual Slaves in America

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude...shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." - 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified Dec. 6, 1865

U.S. failing to find and help victims

...America declared war on human trafficking nearly a decade ago. With a new law and much fanfare, the government pledged to end such human rights abuses at home and prodded the rest of the world to follow its example.

But an investigation by The Kansas City Star found that, in spite of all the rhetoric from the Bush and Obama administrations, the United States is failing to find and help tens of thousands of human trafficking victims in America.

The Star also found that the government is doing little to stop the flow of trafficking along the porous U.S.-Mexico border and that when victims are identified, many are denied assistance.

The United States also has violated its own policies by deporting countless victims who should be offered sanctuary, but sometimes end up back in the hands of traffickers.

After spending millions of taxpayer dollars, America appears to be losing the war in its own backyard.

Even some top federal anti-trafficking authorities in the Bush and Obama administrations acknowledged serious problems.

"The current system is not yet picking up all the victims of human trafficking crimes," Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, told The Star two weeks ago. "It has been a growing problem and in a world of growing problems, it's time for the nations of the world to take it on."

America's failure to live up to its own high standards isn't for lack of will or good intentions or even money. The Star's investigation pointed to problems that are more systemic: an uncoordinated, inconsistent approach to finding victims; politically charged arguments over how to define trafficking; and a continuing disbelief among some in local law enforcement that it even exists.

The issue is further complicated by the heated debate over illegal immigration. The willing participation initially of some victims is blurring the lines and testing the law.

"People feel if you come in illegally, anything that happens to you is your fault," said Lisette Arsuaga, with the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking. "Slavery is not an immigration issue. It's a civil rights issue. There's no justification for making someone a slave." ...

Finding victims

Six months after President Barack Obama was sworn in, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared human trafficking a top foreign policy priority. "Trafficking is a crime that involves every nation on earth and that includes our own," Clinton said in June as she presented the U.S. government's ninth annual global report on human trafficking.

But so far, little progress has been made in changing ineffective policies, The Star found.

Obama's incoming anti-trafficking czar, former federal prosecutor Luis CdeBaca, said many obstacles remain, including a lack of money, coordination and training. "We are doing a lot ... but continue to have a lot of learning to do," CdeBaca said...

Mike McGraw and Laura Bauer

The Kansas City Star

Dec. 13, 2009

See also:

From part II of the Kansas City Star series

The Snares of the Sex Trade


The Desperate Plight of Many Women

...From the outset, the system set up to help trafficking victims had a major flaw, advocates found. Especially when it came to helping sex trafficking victims.

The protection act concentrated on three Ps: preventing trafficking, protecting victims and prosecuting the traffickers. Some critics, however, believe that the United States has put too much emphasis on prosecution.

Victims are required to show reasonable cooperation with law enforcement before they receive all the benefits intended for them, such as food stamps, shelter and the opportunity to stay in America.

In effect, victims are told, they may not get help from the government unless they help the government prosecute the trafficker.

“It is very wrong to have this condition,” said Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, appointed last year as the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on human trafficking. “Countries must avoid that.”

Victims are not given enough time for reflection or counseling, Ezeilo said, before they have to agree to cooperate. Given time to heal, some victims may be more likely to help prosecute their trafficker.

Kelly Heinrich, who has studied human trafficking and the laws addressing it, said the federal law is more witness-centered.

“It’s the way it was designed to begin with and implementation made it worse,” Heinrich said.

Many victims aren’t stable enough to immediately tolerate having to relive what they went through, said Judy Okawa, a licensed psychologist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of survivors of severe trauma...

Laura Buaer

The Kansas City Star

Dec. 13, 2009

See also:

Tráfico y explotación sexual de menores en San Diego

About the 'Child Rape Camps' of San Diego County, California 

[In one of the largest child sex trafficking cases in the U.S., San Diego County Sheriffs Department and federal law enforcement allowed a network of two dozen home-based and open-air rural brothels to exist for 10 years before taking action. After the first raid, described below, the perpetrators were released, and the underage girl sex slavery victims were deported because they failed to agree to testify against their enslavers. They had a very well-founded fear of violent retaliation against their families in Mexico if they cooperated with the prosecution of the traffickers. -LL]

In December of 2001, in an operation coordinated by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), more than 100 INS and FBI agents and sheriff's officers conducted a raid...

More than 50 people were apprehended. They included five [of the many] minor girls who were prostituted in the fields, clients, and Julio Salazar, leader of the [child sex trafficking] gang, who during the confusion managed to evade the officers and escape.

The minor girls were placed in U.S. INS detention, where they were interrogated without the assistance of psychiatrists who could have intervened in the crisis. What the agents wanted was a formal complaint against the Salazar brothers, allowing them to be charged, but the girls declined to cooperate. The girls were deported, and all of the persons detained were freed.

El Universal

Mexico City

Jan. 9-11, 2003

See also:


En desventaja, niños mexicanos indocumentados

Mexico's Undocumented Migrant Children are at a Disadvantage for Refugee Benefits

Thousands of children cross alone into the U.S. each year from Mexico to escape child sex trafficking networks

Many of the 80,000 Mexican children who cross from Mexico into the U.S. alone, as undocumented immigrants, are fleeing abuse at home, or are escaping from child prostitution rings. As such, they would possibly qualify for permission to stay in the United States...

[Attorney Christopher Nugent, of the law firm Holland and Knight, has represented Mexican and Central American children and adults with immigration problems. His work has been pro bono...] explained how in Mexico there exists terrible child trafficking in the area of Acapulco, Guerrero, and that many now call this region "the new Bangkok" of child sex tourism.

Nugent also emphasized that Tijuana [on the U.S. border with San Diego County] has also become an zone controlled by powerful child prostitution networks. Many [prostituted] children from Tijuana are trying to flee to San Diego.

According to Nugent, 70 percent of children who migrate and come to the Office of Refugees in the United States have suffered some sort of trauma from violence or sexual exploitation...

Full English Translation

Georgina Olson


July 3, 2008

See also:

LibertadLatina note

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthori-zation Act of 2008 resulted in a change in U.S. policy, providing for an extended period of detention for children found to have crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S. The purpose of that extension was to allow children to be interviewed to determine if they had been trafficked or subjected to domestic violence, both of which are 'qualifying events' that may lead to their being afforded protection in the U.S.

Some Latino activists have complained that the extended detentions of all children detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol were distressing families. These activists also note that proper interviews of the detained children were not being done.

It will be interesting to learn what the Kansas City Star has uncovered in regard to what its identified as a failure by U.S. authorities to properly afford full protection to trafficking victims found on the Mexican border.

End impunity now!

Chuck Goolsby


Dec. 14, 2009

See also:

Upcoming Kansas City Star special sections on the crisis of human trafficking:

- Dec. 15, 2009: America’s intricate, fraud-plagued work visa program is a welcome mat for modern-day slavers.

- Dec. 16, 2009: Some suspected victims, in violation of U.S. policy, are being deported on government-run airlines based in Kansas City.

- Dec. 17, 2009: A new approach is needed, and changes are coming.

Added: Dec. 14, 2009


At a demonstration in Ciudad Juarez, a member of the activist group Women in Black holds a cross that says, "Not even one more."

Photo: The Associated Press  Nov. 23, 2009

Court Cites Rights Failure by Mexico in Juarez Killings of Women

The inter-American tribunal finds that Mexican officials failed to properly investigate the deaths of three women in a case stemming from slayings of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez.

Reporting from Mexico City - Mexico violated human rights conventions by failing to properly investigate the killings of three young women in 2001 during a now-infamous wave of slayings in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, an international tribunal decided in a ruling released Thursday.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Mexican government to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to the families of the three victims and directed authorities to take other steps aimed at acknowledging their failings and finding the killers.

The court ordered Mexico to erect a monument commemorating the hundreds of women slain in Ciudad Juarez since 1993 and said authorities should revise training and investigative guidelines to improve handling of cases involving slain or missing women.

The binding decision marks the first time an international tribunal has judged Mexico for its handling of the killings of women in Ciudad Juarez. It largely validates charges by numerous groups over the years that authorities in the state of Chihuahua bungled the investigations or never bothered to probe deeply.

More than 350 women and girls were slain in Ciudad Juarez -- with many of the bodies bearing signs of rape and mutilation -- over more than a decade, a situation that drew widespread international condemnation. Most of the killings have not been solved.

Activists said that the 156-page decision strikes a blow for justice in a circumstance in which many of the dead were impoverished young factory workers.

"It represents hope for thousands of people, of mothers, of desperate family members with nowhere to turn for help, no one to bring them justice," said Irma Guadalupe Casas, director of Casa Amiga, a Ciudad Juarez group that works with victims' families.

Lawyers for the families of the three victims in the case, who were 15 to 20 years old, said the court-ordered remedies could help improve Mexico's widely mistrusted judiciary.

"If Mexico complies in a timely fashion with all these measures in good faith, it will be a huge improvement for the rule of law, especially in Ciudad Juarez," said Ariel Dulitzky, director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law. He has given legal advice to the mothers of the victims...

Ken Ellingwood

The Los Angeles Times

Dec. 11, 2009

Added: Dec. 14, 2009

Central America

Aumentan Asesinatos de Mujeres en Centroamérica

Los asesinatos de mujeres en Centroamérica aumentaron entre 2000 y 2006, según un estudio divulgado en Costa Rica, que incluyó a los países del Sistema de Integración Centroamericana (SICA) y fue coordinado por la organización Centro Feminista de Información y Acción (Cefemina)... 

Murders of Women Increase in Central America 

A study coordinated by the Feminist Center for Information and Action (CEFEMINA) has analyzed the rates of murders of women committed among the nations of the System of Central American Integration (SICA). The study found that the rates of murders have increased.

El Salvador saw its rate of female murder double from 6 deaths per 100,000 women in 2000, to 12 per 100,000 women in the 2006.

In Guatemala, the main problem is that homicides of women are not investigated. Therefore authorities cannot know how the crime occurred and who murdered the victim.

It is estimated that 71% of the deaths of women in the region occur simply because the targeted person was a woman, a crime which is known as “femicide.”

Young women are those at greatest risk of becoming victims of femicide. Some 25% of victims of femicide were between 10 and 19-years-of age, and 54% were between the ages of 10 and 30.

In El Salvador and Honduras, a larger number of femicide murders are carried out by members of youth gangs, or “maras,” than at the hands of partners or ex-partners.

Other causes of femicide murders in the region relate to sex trafficking, prostitution, and acts of revenge between both individual men and between mafias.

Two percent of femicide murders in 2003 were committed against sex workers.

Firearms were used in 37% of murders of women, while sharp weapons were used in 25% of these cases.

Xinhua News Agency

Dec. 11, 2009

Added: Dec. 14, 2009

The United States, Latin America

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at Dec. 11, 2009 Diplomacy Briefing on Latin America

Remarks at the First Diplomacy Briefing Series Meeting, Focused on the Issues and Challenges of U.S. Relations With Latin America

Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State

…I want to share a few words with you this morning about our approach to our neighbors, our friends, our partners in the Western Hemisphere...

Now if you look at this hemisphere, particularly Latin America, we see a lot of positive trends – from rising wages to higher school enrollments to better health. But there remains a huge reservoir of potential that needs to be tapped to continue building on this progress over the years and decades to come, and we want to do a better job of partnering with friends and allies in the region... 

We’re working with our partners in Latin America to find ways of ensuring economic growth that doesn’t just benefit the upper echelons of society. Anyone who spends more than five minutes looking at the challenges in Latin America knows that the income disparity is one of the biggest that we have to overcome. So how do we drive economic growth downward? Many of you are aware of the Pathways to Prosperity initiative, which I helped re-launch in El Salvador in June, along with ministers from more than a dozen other countries.

Our focus of pathways is to empower women as drivers of economic and social progress, and this fall, we hosted a meeting of promising female entrepreneurs from the region here at State, bringing them together with more experienced businesswomen who can serve as models and mentors. There are new ways of doing business founded on mutual respect and common vision, but also on shared responsibility…

We are, as you know, working to support the Mexican Government in their brave fight against the drug traffickers and the criminal cartels. I really commend not only the Mexican Government, but so many Mexican citizens who have withstood the onslaught of horrific violence. But it’s not only that we’re providing more military equipment or training; we’re looking for ways that we can cooperate on bolstering institutional support for peace and justice, for human rights and democracy. And it is a long-term commitment...

…I am very pleased that you will later hear from... Assistant Secretary Lou CdeBaca, who we also recruited to lead our efforts on human trafficking, the modern day form of slavery, and so many others who are part of the leadership team here at the State Department...

[Link includes video of Secretary Clinton's remarks]

U.S. Dept. of State

Dec. 11, 2009

Added: Dec. 14, 2009

The World, The United States

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Statement by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC

Modern slavery – be it bonded labor, involuntary servitude, or sexual slavery – is a crime and cannot be tolerated in any culture, community, or country. Sadly, slavery persists around the globe, including within the United States. Every day millions of men, women, and children of all ages face forced labor and sexual exploitation, as well as brutal violence.”

The destructive effects of modern slavery have an impact on all of us. It weakens legitimate economies, breaks up families, creates violence, threatens public health and safety, and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress. It undermines our long-term efforts to promote peace and prosperity worldwide. And it is an affront to our values and our commitment to human rights.

On this International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, I reaffirm the commitment of the United States to end this scourge. Modern slavery is a global phenomenon and must be addressed with global partnerships between governments, non-governmental organizations, and civil society. Through new partnerships, the United States and the international community will work to rescue and serve survivors, bring traffickers to justice, and create a world where every person has the freedom and opportunity to fulfill his or her God-given potential.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

Dec. 2, 2009

See also:

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

The United Nations

Dec. 2, 2009

Added: Dec. 14, 2009

The United States, Georgia, USA

Sex-trafficking Problem Growing Quickly

It's the fastest growing criminal industry

Sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in world. A huge part of that is sexual exploitation of women and children.

While international trafficking of women is rampant, there are many examples of domestic trafficking. On any given day on the streets of Atlanta, there are 16,000 to 25,000 young American girls in the shadows, who are victims of trafficking.

"I thought I would be dead," said Melissa, a victim herself. "I never thought I would live to be 22 or 24 years old."

Melissa's story begins when she was 17, living with another runaway. She said a pimp promised them a better life.

"He started to pay our rent, pay our bills, make sure we had food in our house," recalled Melissa.

In exchange, however, he held her against her will and forced her into the sex trade.

"Within a day, my whole life changed," said Melissa. "I had to sleep with people. He would tell me where I had to be and when I had to be there."

Often times, there are stories about women brought from Latin America, Asia and Europe, advocates said a large percentage of those force into sex trafficking are runaways from the United States. Melissa's case fits the profile, as she was trying to escape a broken home. She was sexually abused at a young age.

"Pimps prey on women like her," said Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. Ambassador-at-large.

Cdebaca said it is time for the U.S. to step up its crackdown on sex trafficking with more aggressive investigations and prosecutions.

"It's a problem that's happening right here, and it's happening to people's daughters, its' happening to people's nieces, nephews and grandchildren," said Susan Coppedge, the Assistant U.S. Attorney. "It's plaguing every community in the United States...

"The pimps almost have a handbook," said Cdebaca. "The traffickers, how to catch a girl is one term. They will try this on 10 or 20 girls, and will only get one. But it's that girl who becomes the victim of sex trafficking..."


Dec. 01, 2009

Added: Dec. 14, 2009

The United States

CNN Finds Modern-day Slaves in US

...According to the State Department, there are as many as 200,000 forced laborers in the US, with some 17,500 arriving every year.

"This is a hidden crime," Luis CdeBaca, the State Department's ambassador for human trafficking, told CNN. "The very nature of this crime masks it from us." ...

The Guardian recently reported on the problem of women and teenage girls being trafficked to the United States for sex and servitude:

In one recent incident a 16-year-old Mexican girl was found to have been trafficked across the US border. Doctors noticed the heavily pregnant girl showed clear signs of physical abuse when she was brought into a hospital in Dayton to give birth. The police were called but the couple who had brought her had already fled. When the girl's story emerged, it became clear she had been kept against her will in the nearby city of Springfield and used for labor and sex. "I thought slavery ended a few centuries ago. But here it is alive and well," said Springfield's sheriff, Gene Kelly.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently launched a 14-city pilot project, "Hidden in Plain Sight," to combat human trafficking. The project involves setting up billboards across the city with an 800 number that victims of human trafficking can call to get help.

[Includes video from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Nov. 30, 2009.]

David Edwards and Daniel Tencer

The Raw Story

Added: Dec. 14, 2009

New York City, USA

Authorities remove container filled with cement and the body of a sex slave's infant, found in a Sunset Park, Brooklyn brothel raid.

Photo: News York Daily News

Bloomberg Urges Sex Trafficking Victims to Speak Up Following Grisly Discovery of Enslaved [Woman's] Baby

Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg urged victims of sex trafficking to come out from the shadows - even if they're here illegally - after an enslaved hooker's baby was found dead in a container full of concrete.

"Whatever your documentation status is, no matter what your situation is, you don't have to worry about it," Bloomberg said yesterday, encouraging them to call 311 or 911. "We all have an obligation to help each other, and if somebody really is being trafficked, you've got to make that phone call. "You're not putting yourself at risk," added the mayor as he dished Thanksgiving meals at a Park Slope soup kitchen. "You are helping other people."

Authorities made the ghastly discovery of the 2-month-old boy in a 10-gallon Rubbermaid container after raiding a Sunset Park brothel late Tuesday. The medical examiner's office will perform an autopsy today.

Cops arrested Domingo Salazar, 33, and Norma Mendez, 32, who police say have run a sex ring since April 2007. The couple, undocumented immigrants from Mexico, face additional charges.

The duo prevented a woman they forced into prostitution from getting medical care for her baby, authorities said. The infant - Salazar's son - fell ill last January, investigators said.

"It's terrible," said Jose Carcano, 46, a neighborhood photo shop owner. "The people who did this, they don't have no heart."

Lisa Colangelo, Rachel

Morgan and Wil Cruz

News York Daily News

Nov. 27th 2009

See also:

LibertadLatina Commentary

Chuck Goolsby

The November 24, 2009 rescue in Brooklyn, New York of an enslaved young Mexican woman who was raped, prostituted, tortured, beaten with bricks, and who was forced by her enslavers to let her sick baby die, is a case that must outrage everyone with a conscience.

The fact is that many hundreds of thousands of women and underage girls from Latin America are undergoing the same tortures every single day all across the Americas. Millions of additional victims exist around the world.

We encourage everyone who is reading this to dedicate themselves to working to end the scourge of modern human trafficking wherever it exists.

Several years ago I was invited to speak before a student group, Latinas United for Justice, at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. I presented the issues described on this web site before a body of mostly Latina students and professors for over two hours, and engaged in a lot of positive discussion with them.

After the event was over, a Latina graduate student told me that she had been a New York City cab driver before going back to school. She told me that much of her cab business, and that of all cab drivers in the city, centered around transporting men who were seeking out "los bayú," a slang term for brothels. This student told me that these clandestine brothels were "everywhere" in Manhattan, she had fares all day long to go to these locations, and all of the local cab drivers knew where they were. She also said that she knew that the women in these brothels were not there of their own free will.

If cab drivers know this, then the police, who protect cabbies and talk to them every day, also know it.

You are asking the victims to make a call to the police, Mayor Bloomberg?

That is a laudable goal.

Unfortunately, brothel managers who beat their victims with bricks are not going to let them near a phone. Beyond that, the victim often just 'got off the boat' from Mexico, so they don't even know what "911" is.

Several recent news articles about sex slavery in New York indicate that some police officers do not know that laws against human trafficking exist. A Queens district attorney declined to state for a reporter how human trafficking cases were being prosecuted  (see below). A Dec. 13, 2009 article, reprinted here in abstract form from the Kansas City Star, Despite US Laws, Thousands Still Virtual Slaves in America, reports that despite the existence of a powerful federal anti-trafficking law, little is really being done to find and rescue the majority of U.S. victims of human trafficking, and especially those who are crossing the U.S. / Mexican border.

We agree with that analysis.

Among several fellow independent anti-trafficking activists whom we collaborate with across the U.S., the common theme that we have all observed is that the rhetoric of anti-trafficking, and the funding for task forces and other tools of law enforcement and victim assistance are great. But on the ground, in the real world, things are not so rosy. These activists have approached federal and local law enforcement agencies time and again with solid evidence of real child and adult trafficking cases, only to be turned away.

In 2006, for example, one Ph.D. expert in human trafficking in San Francisco told me that she had handed solid trafficking cases to the FBI "on a silver platter," with no follow-up haven been done by that agency. In southern California, another anti-trafficking activist has been repeatedly ignored for years, after having identified sex trafficking operations to local and federal law enforcement agents in northern San Diego County.

I have had similar experiences of being ignored when reporting instances of child and adult rape in the Latin community and the low wage workplace to local law enforcement officers in Maryland.

Why does that happen?

How do we fix that disconnect?

We have called repeatedly for the Obama Administration, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador at Large and director of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, to publicly declare a strong U.S. policy to address what is demonstrably one of the largest, of not the very largest sex and labor trafficking crisis in the world, that of Latin America and its Diaspora in the United States, Europe and Japan.

Ambassador CdeBaca notes in a Nov.24, 2009 interview with journalist Lynn Sherr, Obama's Slavery Czar, that over 60% of human trafficking victims in the United States are from Latin America.

We wonder then, why the great preponder-ance of speeches and news interviews given by U.S. federal officials, anti-trafficking academics and NGO leaders on this topic continue to discuss only human trafficking as it exists among (mostly non-Latina) domestic minor victims in the U.S., and in the context of Europe, Asia, and Africa (generally presented in that order of priority).

I have personally been present on two occasions when Ambassador John R. Miller, and also Ambassador Dr. Mark Lagon, both past directors of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, have given major speeches on human trafficking. In both cases, Latin America was never mentioned (except by me, during a question and answer period during a speech by Dr. Lagon in 2008).

Recently, in October of 2009, I attended a speech before students and faculty at the Baltimore University Law School presented by veteran human trafficking prosecutor and Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force co-founder Solette Magnelli, who is an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. During her important presentation, much was said about domestic minor sex trafficking, enslaved West African hair braiders, and enslaved Asian nail salon workers. Yet nothing at-all was said about Latina victims, despite the fact that large numbers of Latin brothels exist in urban, suburban and (we would anticipate) the many farm labor camps in the state, and despite the fact that Latinas are likely to be the largest demographic group of victims in Maryland.

After I made a 10 minute statement followed by a question on how we can best work to sensitize law enforcement officers to the issue of exploitation, several attendees at the session, including two other assistant U.S. attorneys, approached me and thanked me for raising those issues. They were enthusiastic that someone had spoken-up for the Latina victim community.

Other attendees were unhappy that I had raised the issue of Latin American exploitation.

Why does that happen?

I note that I have over 25 years of experience as an independent advocate in regard to these issues in Maryland and greater Washington, DC region.

I stated during my comments to Ms. Magnelli that a federal law enforcement agent had told me a couple of years ago about a mega-brothel operation in Langley Park, Maryland (the state's largest Latino community), that raked-in $60,000 per week (that is 2,000 fifteen minute acts of prostitution at $30 each, per week). The agent I talked with expressed shock that such a large operation could exist, and said that its revenue matched that of a large illegal drug operation. I noted to Ms. Magnelli that I have never seen any public declaration by the criminal justice system announcing that any prosecutions of those perpetrators had ever taken place.

As we have asked in past essays, what is it that has happened to the U.S. federal government's attention to the Latin American crisis, including that of Latina sexual slavery victims who may be found in every U.S. barrio and in every rural farm labor camp from California to Maryland?

Why is federal, state and local attention to the Latin American crisis insufficient in most jurisdictions?

While all of the other focus areas that exist are valid and very important areas for the grass-roots anti-trafficking movement and its counterparts in federal, state and local government to address, 'little brown Maria in the brothel' must also be acknowledged and attended to. She and her advocates must have an equal place at the table of planning and action against modern human slavery.

Latin American victims, including marginalized indigenous and African-descendent women and girls, who are both specifically targeted for enslavement and who have not even a basic level of human rights protection in their own Latin American societies, must be made a priority for U.S. federal anti-trafficking efforts and for the NGO anti-trafficking organizations.

Does it make any sense whatsoever to deliberately ignore the largest segment of trafficking victims in the Americas, because of either anti-immigrant racism, or anti-Latino and anti-indigenous ethnic prejudice, or because those who 'run' the movement want to advocate principally for their favorite ethnic categories of victims?

That is harsh language, but as we see repeated pronouncements about human trafficking from the 'experts' that omit any mention of the crisis of Latin American victims whatsoever, we are left to draw our own conclusions about the motives involved.

I recall that when the Internet first came into its own in the late 1990s, one of the first articles that I had read on human trafficking noted that, "Eight-year-old girls are being trafficked from Veracruz, Mexico into the basement brothels of New York City." That was true in the late 1990s, and it is true today in late 2009.

Mayor Bloomberg, it is your responsibility to send your police department into those thousands of 'mom and pop' immigrant slave brothels in New York City and rescue those women, adolescents and children from the hell that they endure.

It is also the legal and moral responsibility of federal, state and local criminal justice agencies to fall-in and march to that front line and help defend the innocent from impunity.

The brazen acts of enslavement that we are seeing in New York are commonplace in Mexico and across the rest of Latin America. That behavior is now  becoming the norm all over the U.S. because U.S. society and its criminal justice institutions have been caught like a deer in a car's headlights by the scale and audacity of the crimes involved.

It is hard for U.S. society to adjust to the fact that Latin American immigrant sex traffickers are willing to kidnap, rape, prostitute, torture and murder little girls and boys, and young women and men with total impunity, on a scale of tens of thousands of victims, something that U.S. society simply has not seen since the end of African slavery in 1865.

The fact that it is 'little brown Maria in the brothel' from Mexico who is being raped, tortured and murdered, and not a blonde Eastern European, or an East Asian woman or girl, should make her case no less of a priority for law enforcement agencies. To think otherwise is to inject blatant racism into the practice of law enforcement and prosecution, a concept that is profoundly illegal, immoral and unacceptable.

We recall that in the case of the San Diego, California child rape camps in the early to mid 2000s, the San Diego sheriff's department knew about the mass rape of children in rural, open-air brothels catering to immigrant farm workers for ten years before they and federal officials decided to take action. When a raid was carried out, neither the traffickers nor the customers were ever prosecuted, and only one victim was provided services. The other juveniles were simply deported to Mexico because if they had dared to testify against their traffickers, their families could have been killed back in their home towns, in acts of revenge.

We cannot let such a debacle happen again.

We look forward to seeing the Obama Administration address these past failures to act by articulating and then implementing a well thought out  strategy, one that does not seek to hide this crisis from public scrutiny because officials in Mexico or even leaders in el barrio may get upset about our objections to allowing the status quo to be maintained in regard to this issue.

Maintaining the status quo is not an option!

President Obama, take action now to end this never-ending cycle of human misery!

End impunity now!

Chuck Goolsby


Dec. 14, 2009

See also:

Sex Slave Horror in Brooklyn

A sex slave trafficker lured a love-smitten 15-year-old girl from Mexico to Brooklyn, turned her into a prostitute and then let their infant child die without medical care, authorities said today...

Investigators were stunned by the cruelty of the case...

Murray Weiss and Kati Cornell

The New York Post

Nov. 25/29, 2009

See also:

She Survived the Horror - Ex-'Chica' Takes Aim at Trafficking

...Sonia Ossorio, of the National Organization for Women's New York City chapter, said one reason there are so few arrests for sex trafficking is that local law enforcement officials are not trained to detect it as a crime.

When asked whether sex trafficking is treated as a crime, an NYPD spokesman said it would be considered a "derivative of prostitution."

The Queens district attorney's office declined to comment when asked how sex trafficking offenses are prosecuted...

Mary Stachyra and Rima Abdelkader

The New York Daily News

Nov. 24, 2009

See also:

Despite Law, Few Trafficking Arrests

Despite a highly trumpeted New York State law in 2007 that enacted tough penalties for sex or labor trafficking, very few people have been prosecuted since it went into effect, according to state statistics.

In New York State, there have been 18 arrests and one conviction for trafficking since the law was signed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and took effect in November 2007...

Prosecutors like Anne Milgram, the New Jersey attorney general, and Janet DiFiore, the Westchester County district attorney, blame a lack of training.

Police officers, they said, do not recognize signs of exploitation and do not ask the right questions at an opportune time...

“It’s very reminiscent where we were 30 years ago on the domestic violence stuff,” Ms. DiFiore said. “People just don’t get it yet...”

“If you’re looking at a frightened immigrant woman in a brothel, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in political science to know what you’re dealing with,” said Dorchen Leidholdt, legal director for Sanctuary for Families, a Manhattan agency for battered women that is helping the Mexican woman. She runs across many police officers who do not know that a trafficking law exists, she said...

Joseph Berger

The New York Times

Dec. 3, 2009

See also:

United States: Migration and Trafficking in Women

Until recently, trafficking of women in the United States was rarely acknowledged. It was not until Russian and Ukrainian women began to be trafficked to the United States in the early 1990s that governmental agencies and many NGOs began to recognize the problem.

As many critics, including us, have pointed out, Latin American and Asian women were trafficked into the United States for many years prior to the influx of Russian traffickers and trafficked women. The fact that it took blond and blue-eyed victims to draw governmental and public attention to trafficking in the United States gives, at least, the appearance of racism...

Patricia Hyne

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Children (CATW)


See also:

Mexico: Más de un millón de menores se prostituyen en el centro del país: especialista

Expert: More than one million minors are sexually exploited in Central Mexico

Tlaxcala city, in Tlaxcala state - Around 1.5 million people in the central region of Mexico are engaged in prostitution, and some 75% of them are between 12 and 13 years of age, reported Teresa Ulloa, director of the Regional Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean [a coalition of 250 organizations]...

During an international seminar in the city of Tlaxcala, Ulloa noted that, due to the conditions of marginalization in which they live, at least 50 million women and children in Latin America are at risk of being recruited for sexual exploitation.

La Jornada de Oriente

Sep. 26, 2007

See also:

LibertadLatina Special Section

Defending 'Maria' From Impunity

Added: Dec. 14, 2009

The United States

Obama's Slavery Czar

Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca fights human slavery for a living...

CdeBaca was appointed by President Obama, and is the fourth person to hold this job since the position was created by Bill Clinton in 2000. Under Obama, human-rights activists hope efforts to curb trafficking will accelerate.

...The State Department says as many as 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders each year, a number that’s grown with the recession. Break down the statistics and you find a 5 year old sold into prostitution in Nicaragua; kids who should be in primary school instead of baking bricks in Pakistan or mining gold in Africa; Burmese dissidents kidnapped and smuggled away to work on fishing vessels... As many as 17,500 enslaved people are brought into the United States each year, and about 70 percent of them are women trafficked into forced sex work...

Slavery right here? “Not just in this country, but within five miles of where we are sitting,” emphasizes the ambassador. We are sitting in CdeBaca’s unassuming office on G Street in Washington, D.C. ...

Ambassador CdeBaca, a New Mexican whose family settled in the New World nearly five centuries ago, traces his own abolitionist roots to one pioneering ancestor (“Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, the least successful of all the conquistadors”) who was himself enslaved by Native Americans before rising to become colonial governor of Buenos Aires. There he tried to stop colonialists from kidnapping Indian women to use as concubines and men as farmhands [a process that still occurs today all across Latin America - LL], an enlightened notion that got him sent back to Spain in chains, according to CdeBaca...

...He got his start seeing “what’s really affecting my community. Whether it was farm workers, or women in brothels, the percentages continue to be overwhelmingly Latino. Sixty-plus per cent of the [trafficking] victims in the U.S. are Hispanic.” ...

“I don’t think that I could say that we’re going to wipe out rape, kidnapping, or murder,” [says CdeBaca]. “What I can say is that, just like with kidnapping, rape, and murder, we can make it so it is on the margins of society. So that anyone who dares to do this is not going to operate with impunity; they need to know that we’re going to find them and we’re going to prosecute them. I think that at the end of the day what stops this is not government enforcement efforts, it’s the cultural shift where people start saying, that woman’s not just a prostitute, she’s somebody’s daughter. That shirt is not just something to be worn, it’s something that I need to know how it was made and who made it. In other words, that notion of getting everyone involved in the cultural change. At that point, I think we end modern slavery.”

Lynn Sherr

The Daily Beast

Nov. 24, 2009

Added: Dec. 10, 2009

The World

Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on  December 10th.

The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly's adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights.


Día de los Derechos Humanos 2009

El Día de los Derechos Humanos 2009 que se celebrará el próximo 10 de diciembre se enfocará en la no discriminación. “Todos los seres humanos nacen libres e iguales en dignidad y derechos“. Estas pocas palabras iniciales de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos sentaron hace 60 años la premisa fundamental del ordenamiento jurídico internacional de los derechos humanos. No obstante, en la actualidad, la lucha contra la discriminación continúa siendo una lucha de todos los días para millones de personas en todo el mundo.

Oficina del Alto Comisionado para los Derechos Humanos de las Naciónes Unidas


Help end discrimination, celebrate Human Rights Day 2009...

and beyond

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Added: Dec. 08, 2009


Mexico City's Top Human Rights Official Challenges United Nations Declarations That Conditions for Women are Improving

Martha Mícher Camarena was appointed by Mexico City's mayor as the director of El Instituto de las Mujeres de la Ciudad de México (InMujeres - the Women's Institute of Mexico City) in 2006

Reconoce ONU Avances en Lucha Contra Violencia a Mujeres en México; Inmujeres-DF Ve un “Lamentable Retroceso”

México, La directora del Grupo Interagencial de Género de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) en México, Anne Coates, aseveró que el estatus de las mujeres en México ha mejorado en tres años, cuando fue presentado el último informe de ese organismo sobre su situación.

La diplomática participó en la ceremonia de evaluación de la situación de la población femenina en el país, con motivo del 30 aniversario de la firma de la Convención para la Eliminación de todas las Formas de Discriminación contra la Mujer…

En contraparte, la directora del Instituto de las Mujeres del Distrito Federal (Inmujeres-DF), Martha Mícher, consideró que México registra un “lamentable retroceso” en equidad de género, sobre todo

en rubros de prevención, atención y armonización de las leyes…

United Nations Official Declares Advances in the Fight Against Gender Violence in Mexico; Mexico City Women’s Office (InMujeres) Director Responds, Sees a "Lamentable Reversal" in Women’s Rights

Mexico – On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the director of the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) in Mexico, Anne Coates, asserted that the status of women in Mexico has improved during the past three years, since the IANWGE published its last report on the subject.

During the event Coates noted that the 2006 IANWGE report found that discrimination against women prevailed in Mexico, and that each day, four women and girls died from violent acts.

Coates asserted that important advances have occurred since 2006. She cited the passage of the General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free From Violence, the synchronization of other [gender rights] laws at the local level [with comparable federal laws] and “the very important” advance that a campaign by men against gender violence in Mexico represents.

Although Coates recognized that there is still much to do, she anticipates that when the new report on Mexico is presented to the UN in 2010, the results will be more positive than those reported three years ago.

In counterpoint to the view presented by Anne Coates, the director of the Institute for Women of Mexico City (Inmujeres-DF), Martha Mícher, declared that Mexico has seen a “lamentable reversal” in gender equality, most importantly in the areas of [violence] prevention, assistance for women and the synchronization of [gender rights] laws at local level with federal laws [regarding gender rights].

Adding to her response to Coates, Mícher stated, “I do not know what data you are using in your analysis.” Mícher went on to say that in Mexico, women who are victims of violence are still [forced to sit in the same room with their aggressors to 'resolve' their conflicts]; there are no specialized staff in prosecutorial offices [to address gender violence], and murders of women and sexual harassment [are not viewed as criminal acts].

Mícher added that the 5 million pesos that had been designated [by the federal government] to be sent to Mexico’s [31] states to synchronize local laws with the Federal General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free From Violence had not been used for the intended purpose.

Mícher also views as regressive the approval by [the legislatures of] 17 states of right-to-life laws, instead of guaranteeing freedom of choice for women. As a result, women are punished [and some are jailed] for having obtained an abortion, even in cases of rape.

Mícher: The reality “is that we are worse off now than ever before.

Although the campaign by men against the violence is positive, it is not a solution to the problems of gender inequality, because those acts are perpetrated by men who have a history of violence against women.”

Mícher said that in 2010, when the next report on gender equality is presented to the United Nations, it will have to report that women in Mexico live in very poor conditions.


Appearing in El Arsenal

Dec. 07, 2009

See also:

Inmujeres-DF contradice declaraciones de la ONU

Women's Institute of Mexico City refutes United Nations declarations [in regard to women's rights in Mexico]


Appearing in La Jornada

Dec. 07, 2009

See also:

Inmujeres cuestiona a la ONU en violencia vs mujeres

The Mexico City Women's Institute Challenges the United Nations on Violence Against Women in Mexico.

El Semenario

Mexico City

Dec. 07, 2009

See also:

LibertadLatina Commentary

Chuck Goolsby

We applaud Martha Mícher, the director of the Institute for Women of Mexico City, for having had the moral strength and honesty to speak the truth about conditions for women and girls in Mexico. We too must challenge any public pronouncement that conditions for women are improving in Mexico. They are not.

We focus on Mexico (not that other regions of Latin America are less important or mired in crisis) because the conditions for women in that nation are critical, and constitute a true human rights emergency that the World must respond to with urgency.

In a nation where the legal system typically does not defend women's rights to a life free of violence (contrary to the intent of the federal law passed to provide that laudable end); women and girls are subjected to violations of their basic human rights with impunity.

Shockingly, the federal government itself, as well as many state and local governments, are complicit in allowing this "gender hostile living environment" in Mexico to flourish.