Sex Trafficking from Mexico



The Problem

Every day in Mexico, young women and girls are preyed upon and recruited into human trafficking networks that sell sex in residential brothels, through escort services, and in cantinas across the U.S. Powerful networks concentrated in and around the Mexican state of Tlaxcala enslave tens of thousands of women in an underground sex economy in the U.S. 

This network recruits economically vulnerable women and girls by luring them into deceptive romantic relationships. Also known as “boyfriending,” men will shower these women with affection and promise them love and a better life. Within a few months, however, their boyfriends or fiancés change into controllers, exploiting them and often their families through deception, threats, and intimidation if they do not engage in commercial sex. These women are often transported to the U.S. without documents, money, or English fluency, and under the threat of violence to themselves or their families, these women become trapped in slavery.

The Solution

If we want to eradicate this trafficking network and prevent it from recurring, we have to change the equation for traffickers and victims, disrupt the business model, and make the crime high-risk and low-profit. However, a comprehensive response to this form of sex trafficking must also take into account a nuanced understanding of migration, gender norms, and cultural context. We must respond to victims effectively and immediately with an eye towards individual empowerment and economic sustainability. Key stakeholders and communities must be equipped to recognize and address human trafficking. Law enforcement entities in both the U.S. and Mexico must reinforce rule of law and hold traffickers accountable. Finally, public outreach must focus on awareness-raising activities that will prevent further victimization of vulnerable women and girls in the region.

Our Work In Action

Polaris is focused on understanding and dismantling sex trafficking networks that target women and girls from Mexico and Latin America while simultaneously building up effective, culturally competent services on both sides of the border. To this end, we are responding to the immediate and unique service needs of these survivors, supporting them through prosecutions, launching a targeted awareness campaign that prevents victims and identifies survivors, and analyzing the network to create effective, data-driven strategies for disruption, outreach, and intervention.

Polaris has partnered with Consejo Ciudadano to support Mexico’s first national human trafficking hotline. Between the new Línea Nacional Contra la Trata de Personas, operated by Consejo Ciudadano, and the National Human Trafficking Hotline, operated by Polaris, we are creating a safety net so that victims and survivors can seek and receive help regardless of which country they are in. Together, Polaris and Consejo Ciudadano will coordinate across the border and share key insights and trends about human trafficking in order to create the most effective responses for victims.

Photo credit: Flickr / Eneas De Troya

Latest News

Blog post

Cantina Sex Trafficking: The Maria Bonita Case

January 17, 2017

This Houston-based case shows how difficult it can be for law enforcement to identify trafficking at cantinas and put traffickers out of business.

Blog post

Bringing Together Anti-Sex Trafficking Groups in Mexico

December 19, 2016

Consulting with groups who are on the front lines working with survivors is a critical step that will inform and mold our efforts to eradicate this crime.

Blog post

Reuniendo organizaciones contra la trata sexual en México

December 19, 2016

Consultar con los proveedores de servicios que están en primera línea trabajando con los sobrevivientes es una manera consistente de informar y moldear futuras intervenciones en nuestro esfuerzo en erradicar este crimen. 


Tessa Couture

Data Analyst

Sarah Jakiel

Chief Program Officer

My Lo Cook

Strategic Initiative Director

Bradley Myles

Chief Executive Officer

Corey Oser

Global Hotlines Director

Andrea Rojas Solari

Strategic Initiative Specialist