Human trafficking is a multi-billion industry, with new laws being added and old laws being modified on a regular basis- but nothing seems to be truly working to end or even lesson human trafficking. The problem is only rising as there is too much money to be made, and police enforcement and government seem to be overwhelmed with the monumental problem.
In order of being the most involved in human trafficking, Bangladesh, Brazil, Haiti, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Uganda, Ghana, and China are the top countries that are major in human trafficking- and heavily contribute more in sexual than labor exploitation. Some estimates reveal around 80 percent of human trafficking cases are sexual exploitation, and 19 percent involves labor exploitation.
Human trafficking doesn’t only happen in the top ten places heavily relying on human trafficking for profit, but the United States and Mexico have proven as major countries contributing to human trafficking as well. Mexico has continually become a great threat for the United States due to unlawful entry of Mexicans into the United States. A major issue to human trafficking is the problem of illegal immigration of the people from Mexico traveling into the United States illegally. Millions of Mexicans risk their own life trying to enter into the United States by way of the river or desert; each year millions of Mexican citizens set out to take the long journey from Mexico to the United States illegally.
Mexicans who’re trying to enter into the U.S. unlawfully risk a great deal already, especially because their route includes traveling through the river or desert which can be treacherous. The river and desert are considered high-risk zones, and these routes are high-risk for a good reason. In the desert a person risks being faced with dehydration in the hot heat and hypothermia during the colder months, rattlesnakes and coral snakes, bloody feet due to almost every plant in the desert having thorns- and the skin only getting torn more because the guide--better known as the ‘coyote’—is leading them at a fast pace, and if the migrant is injured where they can’t keep up then they’re left behind by the ‘coyote’ and face whatever threat becomes present. These are many times the women with babies, who are found dead and end up at the Pima County medical examiner in Tucson, Arizona. With more than 750 skeletal remains, 68 percent are unidentified, as migrants rarely carry ID, and there are no dental records for a match. The county’s chief medical examiner Dr. Gregory Hess says, “We see about 50 people who have died by firearms, but the vast majority died from exposure.”
The river carries its own deadly risks; including drowning due to clothing becoming heavy. If the river doesn’t kill the migrant then the huge threat becomes the guide or what is called the ‘pollero’ or ‘coyote’ or ‘patero’ or other names for alien smugglers. It can be deadly or dangerous to entrust your own life to a guide, they just may be working for a cartel. Mexico’s cartels are a leading cause for sex trafficking mainly children and women.
Mexican drugs cartels, along with the smugglers hired by the cartels to recruit desperate migrants looking for a way back into the United States is a main issue. Over the past decade, after long existing side by side with coyotes, the cartels decided to get in on the action by turning what was once a relatively informal and somewhat familial underground operation into a highly sophisticated human trafficking network.
While the journey was always treacherous and costly, in the hands of the cartels it has become deadlier than ever. The entire border, and the routes leading up to it, are controlled by some combination of the Los Zetas, Sinaloa and Knights of Templar cartels, along with a few smaller cartels--making it impossible to cross without their permission. Their permission is costly. Where migrants may have once paid a single person from their hometown $300 to $500 to guide them across, the initial going rate to cross the now cartel-occupied border can range between $3,000 and $6,000 per person, the price varying depending on the age, gender, and origin of the migrant. Most people can’t afford that much up front, so family members in the States will often wire money to the smugglers, or pay in installments along the way. The problem with this arrangement is the risk of the smuggler not receiving payment- therefore turning a profit from selling a child or woman into slavery until the debt is paid off.
Under the cartel-run migration model, migrants typically make arrangements to cross from their hometowns and are told to find their own way to a certain point where they will meet the coyote. Smugglers often tell migrants to wait for days before they cross, during which time they are nickel-and-dimed into buying stealth desert-crossing gear, camouflage backpacks, black water bottles, and carpet booties from vendors who set up shop around town.
Riding buses or atop freight trains from southern Mexico where they may be subjected to robbery, beatings, and getting thrown off the train by cartel lackeys is also a risk taken by migrants. Those who make it through all of those possible dangers will continue to encounter crippling fees at practically every leg of their journey to the border. Refusal or inability to pay may result in migrants being forced to carry backpacks filled with marijuana, getting kidnapped in order to extort money from their families, or being murdered on the spot. Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales was captured by Mexican Marines and charged with ordering the kidnapping and murder of 265 migrants. Rape is another issue, for female migrants, there’s a high chance of being raped along the way, either by their guide or one of the random predators who stalk the desert looking to take advantage of desperate migrants who’re looking to desperately get into the U.S.
It’s almost impossible to separate the cartels’ migration takeover from the security crackdown on the U.S.-Mexico border. In the 13 years since U.S. Border Patrol became a part of the post-9/11 Department of Homeland Security and adopted the mission of keeping terrorists out of the country, the Southwest border has been transformed into a militarized zone, with nearly 700 miles of varying degrees of steel fencing, 21,000 Border Patrol agents, security cameras and ground sensors, with more high-tech surveillance on the way.
Mexico’s cartels have made their own market and cornered it- and due to many migrants not being able to afford to pay to cross every clearance point or pay off a debt owed to the coyote or smuggler they get sold into slavery.
U.S. places like Atlanta, Georgia which is one of the main hubs in the United States for sex trafficking has been taken over by these Mexican cartels.
Mexico's cartels and the Mexican mafia have hidden sex trafficking through the game of poker in Atlanta. Poker for many is played either for fun without money or to make money, but throughout the metro Atlanta area poker becomes a different game. Sex is traded many times in place of cash. With Mexico’s cartels heavily leading in Atlanta’s human trafficking problem, even the game of poker becomes part of the underground sex trafficking ring.
Apartment communities nestled in Atlanta communities such as Marietta, Georgia have an underground ring of sex trafficking that’s run by the Mexico cartels and Mexican mafia. The cartels and mafia in conjunction work together to profit from human trafficking, and control an underground sex ring in Atlanta, Georgia. The Mexican mafia actually didn’t originate from Mexico but is actually a Mexican American highly-organized criminal organization, and by connections through the Mexican cartels these Mexican gangs are easily using and making money off of Mexican women who couldn’t pay their debt to the smugglers in the desert by offering these women to men who visit a residential home in Cobb County in Georgia for a game of poker.
Heavily populated Mexican areas in Cobb County can be very dangerous, and leads to finding women trapped in the sex trafficking ring because of debt owed. A Smyrna, Georgia cook who’s a frequent poker player is a semi-professional poker player and has first-hand experienced being offered a woman in the slave trade right after a poker game. He allegedly declined the offer because he says, “I can’t take advantage of a woman.”
Women such as ones trapped in residential homes to pleasure the men who win at these poker games are grabbed from a bedroom and brought out to be showcased and chosen to have sex with by the winner. Women such as the cousin of a Smyrna, Georgia business manager managed to escape the trap of being kept into slavery but barely. Her life was spared but her body was not- she was able to escape with her life but at the cost of the Mexican mafia cutting off all of her limbs. She’s now safe with family but she will forever have to receive care by her family that’s just glad they’re reconnected with her.
Stories like these are common; many Mexican women in the Cobb County area are being held against their will and cannot see their families who’ve successfully migrated to Atlanta, Georgia until the debt is paid off from transferring these women to the United States.
Here are some key points to become educated about human trafficking:
1. Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90.
2. Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.
3. According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.
4. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.
5. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. More than 70% are female and half are children.
6. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
7. California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas on the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
8. The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the US. 15% of those calls are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
9. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.
10. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.
11. The International Labour Organization estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labor victims with 11.4 million trafficked victims (55%) compared to 9.5 million (45%) men.