Day laborers and their children are particularly vulnerable to and are the primary victims of forced and child labor in Mexico’s agricultural sector; migrating from the poorest states to the agricultural regions to harvest vegetables, coffee, sugar, and tobacco; receiving little or no pay, health care, or time off, and in the case of children, being denied education. The vast majority of foreign victims of forced labor and sex trafficking in Mexico are from Central and South America; some of these victims are exploited along Mexico’s southern border. NGOs and the media report victims from the Caribbean, South America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa have also been identified in Mexico, some en route to the United States. Observers reported an increase in Venezuelan migrants vulnerable to trafficking over the past two years.
The Government of Mexico does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by prosecuting more traffickers than in the previous year; identifying and providing support to trafficking victims subjected to forced labor in Mexico and abroad; and launching a new national awareness-raising campaign. Corruption and complicity remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action.
Authorities initiated 127 federal and 298 state investigations in 2017, compared to 188 federal and 288 state investigations in 2016 and 250 federal and 415 state investigations for trafficking in 2015. Authorities initiated prosecutions against 609 individuals in federal and state cases in 2017, compared to 479 in 2016 and 578 in 2015. Authorities convicted 95 traffickers involved in 40 federal and state cases, compared to 228 traffickers involved in 127 federal and state cases in 2016 and 86 traffickers involved in 36 federal and state cases in 2015. The government reported sentences ranging from two years to 99 years imprisonment. Mexican authorities maintained law enforcement cooperation with the United States, partnering on three joint law enforcement operations, which resulted in the arrest of at least 14 alleged traffickers. The government provided anti-trafficking training to the federal police, federal prosecutors, immigration officials, medical professionals, federal child and family protection workers, federal tourism officials, and state government officials.
The government maintained protection efforts, but identified fewer victims for the second consecutive year. The government reported identifying 667 trafficking victims in 2017—429 for sex trafficking, 103 for forced labor or services, eight for forced begging, eight for forced criminality, four for other purposes, and 115 unspecified—compared to 740 victims in 2016 and 1,814 in 2015. Of the 667 trafficking victims identified, approximately 15 percent were male, 66 percent were female, and 19 percent did not have their gender specified. The federal government identified 140 victims, compared to 194 in 2016 and 876 in 2015. The state governments identified 527 victims, compared to 691 in 2016 and 938 in 2015. The Ministry of Foreign Relations identified and provided support to 196 Mexican forced labor victims abroad, including 180 in the United States and 16 in other countries, compared to 20 in 2016.
While victim services vary, in general, federal and state agencies offered victims emergency services, such as medical care, food, and housing in temporary or transitional homes; and long-term victim services, such as medical, psychological, and legal services. The Special Prosecutor’s Office for Violence Against Women and Trafficking in Persons (FEVIMTRA) continued to operate a high-security shelter in Mexico City and provided shelter to 52 trafficking victims. An NGO in the State of Puebla continued to operate the country’s only public-private shelter. The State of Mexico opened three trafficking-specific shelters in 2016; and the City of Mexico opened a trafficking-specific shelter, which provided medical, legal, psychological, and social services to victims during pending cases. In addition to these shelters, there are two publicly funded Women Justice Centers in the states of Hidalgo and Guanajuato that work jointly with the Specialized State District Attorneys for Trafficking in Persons to provide a temporary shelter for trafficking victims.
The government increased prevention efforts. The intersecretarial anti-trafficking commission coordinated with more than 30 government agencies and institutes; established cooperation agreements with state and local governments and the National Human Rights Commission, which coordinated regional committees to address human rights issues, including trafficking in persons; and monitored the implementation of the national anti-trafficking action plan for 2014-2018 and published a report of its anti-trafficking efforts for 2017. Twenty eight out of 31 states had state-level anti-trafficking committees. The national anti-trafficking commission hosted a national meeting of the technical secretaries with representation from 29 states. The government provided anti-trafficking training and awareness-raising programs nationwide for government officials, including health professionals and the general public reaching more than 11 percent of the population.
With U.S. government support, the federal government launched a national awareness-raising campaign called Blue Heart Campaign 2.0 in July 2017, including targeted messages for repatriated migrants, indigenous communities, disabled persons, women, children, and youth. The government operated several hotlines to report emergencies, crime in general, for victims of crime, for crimes against women and trafficking crimes, and promoted the reporting of trafficking tips to an NGO-run national anti-trafficking hotline. The NGO-run hotline received 981 calls in 2017, resulting in the identification of 103 calls with trafficking indicators and 22 investigations.
The following reports come from the 2018 Trafficking in Human Persons Report