Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

Human Trafficking in Latin America

Sex trafficking and forced labour have long been prevalent in Latin America. This is primarily due to economic issues, corrupt governments, and big criminal groups in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, significant entrance and transit sites for people trafficking to the U.S.

Mexico is now one of the major resorts for human trafficking victims. Sex trafficking in Mexico began between 1980 and 1990 when the economy collapsed, and many individuals were forced to flee their homes due to poverty. These problems left many Mexican women and children vulnerable to abuse and trafficking (Coffey et al., 2004). The rise of drug gangs and other organized criminal organizations has made Mexico even more vulnerable. When these criminal groups gained dominance, they expanded into other unlawful operations, like the lucrative sexual trafficking business. According to Seelke (2019), each year, human trafficking organizations force numerous Mexican women and girls into sexual slavery networks using brutal violence and threats to the relatives of the victims. Their operations stretch across Mexico, from the major cities to poor rural towns, and also across the U.S. border. Victims describe being frequently moved between different regions to service buyers and evade authorities. The trafficking groups coordinate closely with local gangs as well as other organized crime groups in Guatemala and Honduras to traffic victims over long distances. Their operations generate massive profits from exploitation while devastating communities and trapping victims in horrific abuse.

The typical pattern of recruitment starts on the streets of impoverished Mexican towns and regions. Traffickers lure desperate, unemployed women and children by falsely promising them good jobs and better lives in tourist areas or across the border (Coffey et al., 2004). Those who accept the offers are forced into commercial sex rings and moved frequently between different regions of Mexico and sometimes across international borders. Victims describe being subjected to horrible physical and psychological abuse, including rape and torture threats against family members back home (Seelke, 2019). Many are forced to service dozens of buyers per day with no ability to leave.

Local communities have struggled to respond effectively to protect victims or prevent trafficking. Police corruption is widespread, which allows traffickers to operate freely (Coffey et al., 2004). Mexico has passed federal anti-trafficking legislation, but enforcement remains extremely limited, especially in poor rural zones most impacted. There are very few support services available for rescued victims. According to Seelke (2019), the U.S. and international agencies have provided anti-trafficking training and funding to help build Mexico’s capacity, but progress remains slow.

Key recommendations for combating trafficking in Mexico include, first, targeting organized crime groups trafficking networks through joint security operations with the U.S. and Central America and, secondly, increasing job/education access for vulnerable groups to reduce the risk of exploitation. Another one is boosting law enforcement capacity to identify and assist victims while prosecuting traffickers and, lastly, expanding social services and shelters available regionally for trafficking survivors (Coffey et al., 2004). Sustained political will and regional cooperation will be critical to making progress against the deeply entrenched trafficking networks operating in Mexico and Mesoamerica.

In general, human trafficking has persisted as a massive challenge across Latin America due to a mix of socioeconomic problems, institutional weaknesses and the power of organized criminal groups. As seen in Mexico’s experience, economic crises and poverty left many vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking, while the ascent of powerful crime networks created the structures to profit off this vulnerability through forced prostitution and labour. Traffickers exploit weak institutions like corrupt police to operate freely, using violence and coercion to trap victims. Addressing this complex problem requires coordinated efforts across source, transit and destination countries to reduce risk factors, strengthen protections, disrupt criminal pipelines, and support victim recovery. Sustained political will and regional cooperation are critical next steps towards reducing trafficking networks’ power and restoring community security. Though progress is slow, a holistic approach can ultimately help protect vulnerable groups in Mexico, Latin America and beyond from exploitation.


Coffey, P. S., Phariss, A. V., & Renaud, T. (2004). Literature review of trafficking in persons in Latin America and the Caribbean. Bethesda, Maryland: Development Alternatives Inc.

Seelke, C. R. (2019). Trafficking in persons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Updated). Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America12(1), 105-132.


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics