U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Mexico

Mexico (Tier 2 Watch List)

Mexico is a source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and labor. Trafficking patterns in Mexico are diverse and complicated. Many victims are Mexican children internally trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Reliable estimates point to 16,000-20,000 Mexican and Central American child sex victims in Mexico, found largely in border, urban, and tourist areas. Women are also trafficked into the Mexican sex trade and a significant number are moved into the United States. Most victims are Mexican and Central American, but they also originate from the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Mexican and Central American agricultural workers have been victims of forced labor trafficking from Mexico into the U.S. There are no reliable estimates on trafficking victims or exploited laborers. Mexico is a major transit country for illegal migration into the U.S. and many cross-border trafficking victims are difficult to identify because their cases are shrouded in this clandestine transnational movement.

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 results of Mexico's efforts to fight trafficking are mixed. Mexico needs national-level commitment to fight trafficking and a national anti-trafficking law. As with other significant transit countries, Mexico is severely challenged to identify and rescue potential trafficking victims who are in transit. The government needs to expand cooperation on both of its land borders with Guatemala and the United States to identify trafficking cases that occur as part of cross-border illegal migration. The Mexican-Guatemalan March 2004 Memorandum Of Understanding on trafficking is a good start. In view of the commitment of Mexican officials to do more to fight trafficking in the face of a significant problem, the country is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.


Lacking a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, Mexico has no national law enforcement strategy to address human trafficking, but scattered criminal cases have been brought against traffickers. Much more needs to be done. Available 2003-04 federal government data indicate that there were 27 arrests made and 16 additional arrest warrants issued for sexual exploitation trafficking offenses. There was no information available on the sentencing of any traffickers for sexual exploitation in 2003. Many more arrests and prosecutions were carried out against criminal migrant smugglers, including 85 convictions, but no information is available on which, if any, of these cases involved trafficking exploitation. Mexico tends to prosecute smugglers who commit human rights abuses. Mexico's cyber-crimes unit eliminated 200 Internet sites dedicated to child pornography that exploited child trafficking victims. Mexico has also taken steps to investigate and prosecute individuals facilitating child prostitution. Corruption among some officials continues to be a significant concern, and Mexico has made efforts to investigate and prosecute corrupt officials, but still more needs to be done.


Mexico lacks an overarching government approach to protect trafficking victims, but uncoordinated policies do assist Mexican victims. For example, the government funds NGOs and runs shelters that offer basic services to Mexicans in need, including those who may have been trafficked. On the other hand, all undocumented foreigners, including potential trafficking victims, face detention and deportation. Depending on their situation, foreign minors may be given some temporary assistance.


The government continues to display an ad hoc approach to prevention. There are some isolated successes, and other areas that call out for attention, but the efforts are meager in response to the scope of the problem. The government's social welfare agency (DIF) implements a national plan to stop child sexual exploitation. DIF carries out awareness campaigns and runs a hotline that assists exploited minors. Mexico's immigration service (INM) provides information on the human rights of foreign migrants and attempts to coordinate policies with Mexico's neighbors to deter illegal migration. But INM is overwhelmed by the number of illegal migrants in Mexico. The government's policy of immediate deportation limits its ability to investigate trafficking schemes and act to prevent them. Mexico has supported anti-trafficking policies at international forums, such as the UN Commission on Human Rights.


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