Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 08:28 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Mexico

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Mexico, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Mexico (Tier 2)

Mexico is a major source of and transit point for primarily Mexican and Central American migrants traveling to the United States, some of who are trafficked or at risk of being trafficked for labor or sexual exploitation. Others from Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe transit Mexico to the United States. Those who do not succeed in passing through are often forced into prostitution in Mexico, including a high number of children in the border area with Guatemala. In addition to international trafficking, Mexico has internal trafficking, especially for the sexual exploitation of children.

The Government of Mexico does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government has launched a national campaign against the sexual exploitation of children and achieved a high level of success in interdicting illicit migration, including trafficking; however, efforts to assist victims and punish traffickers, especially those that sexually exploit minors, are still limited.


The national campaign against sexual exploitation of children, which urges people to report the crime, has begun to show positive results. Continued and increased efforts to raise awareness under this initiative will help identify and assist a greater number of victims.


Mexico's record on law enforcement against trafficking is uneven. There have been great successes, including the significant reduction of illicit migration and trafficking in persons between Baja California and the United States thanks to excellent cooperation between Mexican and U.S. officials. However, in other areas, such as Ciudad Juarez, which reports a high incidence of child prostitution and pornography, investigation was weak. Enforcement may improve in Ciudad Juarez as the federal social welfare agency recently contributed to a study of the problem and NGOs have begun sensitivity training for police. In Tapachula, near the Guatemala border, brothel owners have trafficked hundreds of Central American minors into prostitution with almost complete impunity. Mexico continues to improve its efforts to monitor its borders well in many places. In 2001, border officials turned back 15,000 undocumented aliens and hundreds of migrant smugglers and in 2002, federal police arrested the head of an international alien smuggling network. Some of these were traffickers and victims, but no data is available on the scope of the crime for two main reasons: Mexico is primarily a transit country, so the extent of trafficking may not be evident until the victim reaches the destination; and Mexican officials do not attempt to distinguish victims or traffickers, they simply deport all. Corruption and poor enforcement against exploiters of children weaken Mexico's prosecution efforts.


The government's social welfare agency assists trafficking victims repatriated from the United States by providing them with shelters and health care, and by returning victims to their families. The availability and quality of these programs varies widely by region. The federal government occasionally funds NGOs to assist victims, but overall the level of services should be expanded to meet the current need. Foreign victims of trafficking who are in Mexico illegally are generally deported instead of receiving public assistance while helping prosecutors to develop a case against the trafficker.

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