Mexico is a large source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Groups considered most vulnerable to human trafficking in Mexico include women and children, indigenous persons, and undocumented migrants. A significant number of Mexican women, girls, and boys are trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation, lured by false job offers from poor rural regions to urban, border, and tourist areas. According to the government, more than 20,000 Mexican children are victims of sex trafficking every year, especially in tourist and border areas. The vast majority of foreign victims trafficked into the country for commercial sexual exploitation are from Central America, particularly Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador; many transit Mexico en route to the United States and, to a lesser extent, Canada and Western Europe. In a new trend, unaccompanied Central American minors, traveling through Mexico to meet family members in the United States, increasingly fall victim to human traffickers, particularly near the Guatemalan border. Victims from South America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia, are trafficked into Mexico for sexual or labor exploitation, or transit the country en route to the United States. Mexican men and boys are trafficked from southern to northern Mexico for forced labor. Central Americans, especially Guatemalans, are subjected to forced labor in southern Mexico, particularly in agriculture. Child sex tourism continues to grow in Mexico, especially in tourist areas such as Acapulco and Cancun, and northern border cities like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Foreign child sex tourists arrive most often from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. Organized criminal networks traffic Mexican women and girls into the United States for commercial sexual exploitation. Mexican men, women, and children are trafficked into the United States for forced labor, particularly in agriculture and industrial sweatshops.
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 government took steps to implement its federal anti-trafficking law, issuing regulations in February 2009. As of May 2009, twenty-two Mexican states and its federal district had enacted legislation to criminalize some forms of human trafficking on the local level. However, no convictions or stringent punishments against trafficking offenders were reported last year, though the federal government opened 24 criminal investigations against suspected trafficking offenders. Moreover, the government has not completed renovations on its planned trafficking shelter, though it continued to refer victims to NGOs for assistance. While Mexican officials recognize human trafficking as a serious problem, the lack of a stronger response by the government is of concern, especially in light of the large number of victims present in the country.
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