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By MARK LORENZANA

Mexico City-based criminal organizations Tepito Union and the Tláhuac Cartel currently control the trafficking of persons for sexual purposes and prostitution on the streets of the country’s capital, revealed a joint report by Mexico’s Secretariat of Citizen Security (SSC) and the Attorney General’s Office (FGR).

These groups have allegedly managed to venture into the trafficking of women who hail from the east-central Mexican state of Tlaxcala, and not only are the victims trafficked on the streets of Mexico City, but also through phone apps and messaging and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Tinder, Telegram and even OnlyFans.

Some of the women who have decided to dedicate themselves to independent sex work have likewise reportedly been affected by the criminal organizations, mainly because these women are forced to hand over a percentage of their earnings to avoid harm.

Mexican daily newspaper El Universal gained access to the internal document of the SSC and the FGR, which was prepared in 2021, but contains data until April 2022. The report identified how, for years, both criminal organizations — also dedicated to drug dealing, extortion, kidnapping and homicide —have been involved in the control of sex trafficking and prostitution in the capital.

The report details how the criminal organizations provide protection to the traffickers themselves, as well as to the places used for sexual exploitation. All this information was culled through operations, testimonies from victims and in coordination with federal authorities. According to the report, the Mexico City borough of Cuauhtémoc has the greatest number of investigations for the crime of sex trafficking, and that “a large number of victims” come from the Mexican states of Tlaxcala, Veracruz and Sinaloa.

According to the document, the victims are transported by land to Mexico City because the criminal organizations allegedly have a protection network involving authorities in charge of the protection and security of federal highways, to avoid detection.

Speaking to El Universal, the president of the Citizen Council for Security and Justice, Salvador Guerrero Chiprés, explained that “There is a diversity in the groups that participate in human trafficking that operate throughout the country, including Mexico City,” independent of the Tepito Union and the Tláhuac Cartel.

He said that several of these organizations can even be of a global nature, criminal associations that have been involved in human trafficking for one or two generations already, or that they have recently added sex trafficking to their other illegal activities.

Guerrero Chiprés said that his group estimates that 98 percent of human trafficking is not reported, and he is imploring the public to report crimes of this nature through the agency’s telephone hotline.

Still according to the SSC and FGR document, the modus operandi of the criminal groups is to look for “targets” in marginalized or rural areas of Mexico, where they venture to offer young women job opportunities in the capital. When they accept the offer, the women are housed in residential areas in Mexico City.

After the victims are exploited sexually and demand to return home, the traffickers threaten them that they have acquired a large debt, which can only be repaid by subjecting the women to sex work.

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