Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Mexico

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 3 June 2005
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Mexico, 3 June 2005, available at: [accessed 28 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 Watch List)

Mexico is a source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and labor. The trafficking phenomenon in Mexico is complex and has strong links to organized transnational criminal networks and gangs. Many illegal immigrants fall prey to traffickers and are exploited along the Guatemala and United States' borders. In addition to cross-border trafficking, Mexico also faces a considerable internal trafficking problem in which thousands of children – largely Mexicans and Central Americans – are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The government states that the number of these child victims may be as high as 20,000.

Trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation of minors contributes to child sex tourism in Mexico, mainly in the border and tourist areas. In addition, women are trafficked into Mexico's sex trade as well as trafficked via Mexico into the United States' illegal sex trade under false pretenses by organized criminal networks. Mexican and Central American men, women, and children are trafficked into the United States for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Although most trafficking victims in Mexico are from Central America, victims also originate from the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Exact numbers of trafficking victims are not readily available, as they are often difficult to identify, due to the clandestine and complex nature of cross-border trafficking.

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. Mexico remains on the Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking, particularly in the area of law enforcement. Deficiencies in Mexico's efforts to combat trafficking remained throughout the year, though the Mexican Government has recently committed to do more. Legal reforms are pending in the Mexican Congress which, if passed, may aid with trafficking-related prosecutions and convictions. Currently, trafficking victims in Mexico are at risk of being further victimized because of inadequacies in the current legal system, notably the lack of protection for victims. The Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN) of the Secretariat of Government was recently designated as the coordinating agency for anti-trafficking efforts. CISEN faces structural inefficiencies in collecting data and fostering investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking cases.


The Government of Mexico did not keep law enforcement statistics on trafficking investigations, arrests, prosecutions, or convictions over the reporting period. There were no known prosecutions or convictions in Mexico over the time-frame covered by this report. However, Mexican authorities did report a large number of smuggling investigations, and perhaps some of these cases have a trafficking element – it reported identifying 51 criminal organizations and 35 ringleaders involved in alien smuggling. General inefficiency in the judicial system contributes to the lack of prosecutions and convictions in Mexico, and little progress has been made to address these problems within the existing criminal justice system, although the government has introduced to Congress significant judicial reform legislation. Nonetheless, recent statements by high-level Mexican officials indicate a willingness to devote resources to investigate and prosecute trafficking networks. Mexico has actively cooperated with the United States on a few specific trafficking cases and also worked with the United States through bilateral law enforcement channels. However, Mexico should move quickly to implement a March 2004 agreement with Guatemala to address cross-border trafficking in its southern border region. Anti-trafficking legislation introduced last year is pending in the Mexican Congress. In 2004, the government conducted a major operation targeting corrupt immigration officials. Twenty-five of those officials are now on trial for various corruption charges. However, there have been no reports of officials convicted of trafficking-related corruption. Corruption remains endemic among Mexican security personnel and presents a major obstacle to improved anti-trafficking efforts.


Mexico continued to provide an inadequate level of support to victims during the reporting period. Many victims are not adequately protected and thus prosecutions and convictions are difficult to obtain without key statements from victims of trafficking. There are NGOs in the country that will shelter trafficking victims, and the government's social welfare agency (DIF) has also taken steps to protect and assist trafficking victims. However, DIF has few resources and large caseloads, which inhibits its ability to cope with the growing numbers of trafficking victims present in the country, especially along the Mexico-Guatemala border. Although the current Administration has stepped up efforts to engage and work with civil society, the NGO presence in the country remains weak. Mexico is overwhelmed with the large number of migrants that transit Mexico, and reported 215,695 detentions of illegal migrants in 2004, an increase of 15 percent since 2003. The need to care for large numbers of illegal immigrants constrains Mexico's ability to provide support to trafficking victims. Mexico provides temporary shelter and medical services to unaccompanied minors who are smuggled, but there are no statistics on the number of trafficking victims assisted. The government is also constructing a new $10 million facility in southern Mexico to house and process intercepted migrants, and this center may also aid trafficking victims. The Mexican Commission on Human Rights opened offices on both borders to assist smuggling and trafficking victims. Despite these efforts all foreigners, including trafficking victims, face detention and deportation. Mexico immigration (INM) recently indicated that it would permit trafficking victims to stay in the country as long as they agree to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers. However, no victims have been identified and measures to ensure the safety of the victims under this program are not clearly delineated.


Mexico had some success in calling attention to trafficking in the country. The First Lady of Mexico has spoken out about the dangers of trafficking, and other high-level government officials, including the Secretary of Government and the Foreign Secretary, have stressed the need to fight the problem. The government's social welfare agency (DIF) runs public awareness campaigns throughout the country and is implementing a national plan to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. DIF is also working to prevent the growing sex tourism problem in Mexico. Finally, the government signed an agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS) and is also working with the IOM to address some aspects of trafficking in Mexico.

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