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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    Hispanic And Latino Brothels, Prostitution Rising in American Cities

    Hispanic And Latino Brothels, Prostitution Rising in American Cities

    By Carlos Garcia (
    First Posted: Apr 07, 2014 05:42 PM EDT

    A female police officer posing as a prostitute opens her coat for a driver who stopped for her on Holt Boulevard, known to sex workers throughout southern California as 'the track', during a major prostitution sting operation November 12, 2004 in Pomona, California. (Photo : Getty)

    A recent study commissioned by the Justice Department and conducted by the Urban Institute think tank that investigated the sex trade in eight big American cities: Miami, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, and Seattle. One major revelation found out in the study was that Hispanic prostitutes and pimps are a growing part of the sex trade. The overall national demand for sex work does not appear to be in a state of growth, with industry earnings shrinking by as much as 37 percent in five of the major American cities, grossing a mere $40 million annually compared to the $32 billion figure that accounts for the human sex trade worldwide.

    Most men prefer real girlfriends, according to The Economist, which explains the decline in wages for sex workers over the years: "The demand for sex probably does not change much over time, but other things do. A century ago, when sexual mores were stricter, prostitution was more common and better paid (see table). Men's demand for commercial sex was higher because the non-commercial sort was harder to obtain -- there was no premarital hook-up culture.

    Women were attracted to prostitution in part because their other job opportunities were so meagre. And they commanded high wages partly because the social stigma was so great -- without high pay, it was not worth enduring it," the March print edition reports.

    The recent data has found that in cities such as Miami, for example, brothels are primarily operated by Hispanic or Latino men and women. One of the officers who was interviewed says, "What we've been seeing in the last one [investigation] we did is a lot of the girls were doing it voluntarily at that point, [but] had been trafficked [smuggled and then trafficked] in seven, eight years ago. They paid their debt off and they stayed down there. They know how to make money now so they do it voluntarily. They're much older now, not very attractive, it's kinda like this is all they got."

    The women and girls involved are typically from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Minors are also sex trafficked with many of them being voluntarily involved but at one point were smuggled to the United States at a young age and forced to work in the underground commercial sex trade (UCSE) in order to pay off their smuggling debts. Much of the trafficking takes place through individual families with connections to coyotes, or smugglers, rather than organized crime syndicates, although Mexican cartels help to facilitate the smuggling of women and children from Mexico. Migrant farmworkers comprise most of the client base for Latino brothels, and Law enforcement officials estimate some brothels serve upwards of 80 customers daily and typically charge $25 for 15 minutes.

    Aside from brothels, the human sex trade in major American cities also includes internet-based trafficking and erotic massage parlors in addition to street-based prostitution. Street-based prostitution, which has the lowest prices, is in decline as girls increasingly ply their trade in strip clubs and massage parlors or the internet, which are all safer compared to the streets. Websites such as Craigslist, Backpage, and Eros that advertise commercial sex are typically more expensive than brothels or street-based commercial sex, but less expensive that escort services. Websites advertising escort services offer more high-end prices, from $600 to $1000 per hour, and attract wealthier clients.

    Looking at San Diego as an example, street and internet based prostitution is primarily run by African American males aged 16-22, half of whom are involved in gangs. Street prices range from $40 for a hand job, $60-80 for oral sex, and $80-120 for "full service." Internet prices range from $120-140 for a half hour and $200 for an hour.

    Escort services are mainly independent operators who are mainly women. Prices range from $150-500 to show up, plus an additional several hundred to several thousand for sex acts. In the case of an escort agency, there will be a 60-40 or 80-20 split between the girl and her agency. The erotic massage parlors are run by Asians, primarily Chinese and charged $60 for a nonsexual massage and $60-120 per sex act. Workers keep $10 from the massage, tips, and what they earn through sex acts. Brothels are run by Latino men, especially migrant camp brothels, which are closed to the public and charge $20-80 in cash for a variety of sex acts.

    One San Diego law enforcement officer explained that rarely has law enforcement in San Diego found Hispanic gangs involved in the underground commercial sex trade: "The majority of our drug trafficking and weapons trafficking deal with Hispanic street gangs and cartel and then they distribute it out to everybody else. With the prostitution and the human trafficking, it's predominantly black gangs. Hispanics, it's kind of I know it's going to occur, but generally it's sex trafficking, rapes, things like that are taboo within the Hispanic street gangs as the rules put for them by the prison gangs because the prison gangs dictate to the street gangs the rules."

    San Diego's large number of migrant camps and proximity to Mexico makes it a large market for underground commercial sex activities.

    The brothels are designed to keep the workers in the fields happy and johns pay $20 to $80 in cash for a variety of sex acts, according to law enforcement officials. "It's like having sex in a PE-room, and up the road from there it was girls' underwear, condoms, beer bottles, so you can just picture how this looks, with everybody lined up -- no shame. But I think the money is there. Obviously it's there or it wouldn't be around as long as it has been. The money that they ask for per service is less but they deal more of it."

    The 348 page study was conducted by Meredith Dank (PhD), P. Mitchell Downey, Cybele Kotonias, Deborah Mayer, Colleen Owens, and Laura Pacifici of the Urban Institute. Non-Urban Institute researchers in the study included Bilal Khan (PhD) of John Jay College and Lilly Yu of Rice University. The study is titled "Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities" and was supported by Award No. 2010-IJ-CX-1674, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice.

    According to VOXXI, most clients hold a misconception that women in sex rings participate voluntarily and enjoy the work they do.

    Clients aren't aware of the fact that women in sex rings are coached to fake orgasms and do whatever it takes to please the clientand by not doing so they expose themselves to being hurt or having their families targeted.

    "According to research from the University of Portland, the average male in the United States who visits a prostitute is usually likely to have served in the military, only slightly less likely to be married and white, and only slightly more likely to have a full-time job and be more sexually liberal," Gillette writes.

    "Despite the common assumption that men who pay for sex are looking to dominate or hurt a woman, data suggests this is not the case; most men paying for sex truly believe a prostitute wants or desires sex on a level incomparable to most other women -- including wives and significant others."

  2. #2
    Senior Member HAPPY2BME's Avatar
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    Feb 2005

    The Mexican Drug Cartels’ Other Business: Sex Trafficking

    The Mexican Drug Cartels’ Other Business: Sex Trafficking

    Narco gangs, including the Zetas, have diversified their portfolio to include buying and selling women as slaves

    By Ioan Grillo / Mexico City July 31, 201358 Comments

    A sex worker in Mexico City on Jan. 20, 2010

    Like many victims of human trafficking, Marcela was tricked into the sex trade by a man she thought she could trust. She met him in her small hometown in Veracruz state when she was 16. Posing as a wealthy businessman, he asked for her hand in marriage, promising a comfortable lifestyle. Instead he took her to the Merced neighborhood of Mexico City, a hotbed for prostitution.

    She was kept under duress in a hotel room and forced to have sex with up to 40 men a day, who paid $15 each to her so-called boyfriend and his accomplices. Girls suffering from human trafficking are often kept under such conditions for years. However, after a week, police raided the hotel, and Marcela defied the threats from the traffickers to testify in court, sending them to prison. “When it was happening, I just blocked it out, as it was so painful,” says Marcela, who asked that her name be changed. “It took me a long time to regain any confidence in myself, to rebuild my life.”

    Now 21, Marcela works with activists in support of a new drive by prosecutors to make sure other girls don’t suffer what she did. Their efforts have been aided by Mexico’s first federal law on human trafficking passed in 2012. (Before this, the issue was governed by varying state laws.) The new act dictates custodial sentences for perpetrators at all links in the trafficking chain with sentences up to 40 years. Activists estimate that hundreds of thousands of women in Mexico, including many underage girls, are coerced into sex work or other forced labor, though the clandestine nature of the trade makes it impossible to know exact figures. Under the new law, any sex work involving girls under the age of 18 qualifies as human trafficking. Laws governing prostitution vary across Mexico’s states, and it is often tolerated in red-light zones, such as those on the U.S. border.

    (VIDEO: Mexico’s Feared Narcos: A Brief History of the Zetas Drug Cartel)

    The fight against this trafficking is complicated by the deep involvement of the country’s notorious drug cartels in the business. Narco gangs like the Zetas — a criminal army founded by defectors from the Mexican military — have diversified their portfolio to include kidnapping, extortion, theft of crude oil, gun running and lucrative human-trafficking networks. It’s impossible to know the exact value of Mexico’s human-trafficking trade, though the U.N. estimates the global industry to be worth $32 billion a year. “As the drug war has become more intense, the networks that traffic women have made their pacts with cartels,” says Jaime Montejo, a spokesman for Brigada Callejera, a sex-worker support group in Mexico City. “Those that don’t cannot survive.”

    In addition to selling women for sex, Mexican cartels also have been known to kidnap women and girls and use them as their personal sex slaves. “Human-trafficking crimes have a devastating effect on victims and their families,” says Rosi Orozco, who served as a Mexican federal deputy, drafting the new law, and now works closely with prosecutors. “There are parents who are searching and searching for their children and can’t sleep because of this nightmare.”

    The antitrafficking drive has gained momentum in Mexico City, where a special prosecutor took power in May and has since overseen 86 raids on hotels, bars and massage parlors, rescuing 118 women and charging 62 alleged traffickers. Other significant arrests have been made across Mexico in states including Hidalgo and Puebla in recent months. Activists are also supporting cases as far away as the U.S., where Mexican women have been smuggled over the Rio Grande into forced sex work. This month, police in New Jersey arrested six Mexican nationals on sex-trafficking and organized-crime charges following a raid on a brothel in the town of Lakewood. “For too long, human-trafficking victims have suffered out of sight on the fringes of society,” acting state attorney general John Hoffman told reporters on July 18.

    (MORE: Mexico Goes After the Narcos — Before They Join the Gangs)

    Gangs like the Zetas are involved in human trafficking at many links on the chain. Cartels control most of Mexico’s smuggling networks through which victims are moved, while they also take money from pimps and brothels operating in their territories. Prosecution documents show numerous cases in which cartel members have confessed to murdering pimps who crossed them or burning down establishments that refused to pay their “quota.” Mexican marines arrested the Zetas’ leader, Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, this month and prosecutors say that human trafficking will be among the long list of charges leveled against him. “The cartels know that drugs can only be sold once, but women can be sold again and again and again,” says Teresa Ulloa, director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean. Ulloa, who has helped hundreds of victims of sex trafficking in Mexico, says organized crime is involved in 70% of cases.

    The new human-trafficking law takes into account cases of women forced to work directly for cartels, punishing anyone who helps bring women to them. Some recent testimonies made to journalists and activists cast light on the horrifying ordeals of women held in servitude for long periods by the gangsters. In one account taken by the former deputy Orozco, a woman from El Salvador described how she was kidnapped by the Zetas in Mexico, repeatedly raped and then also forced to cook and wash bloody clothes and machetes. While she was finally freed by one of her captors, other women are believed to experience similar brutal treatment before ultimately being murdered. This month, a mother located the body of her daughter in Oaxaca state after a two-year-long search; she discovered that her daughter had been held by a gang of Zetas and was repeatedly raped before being decapitated.

    In western Michoacán state, the brutal Knights Templar cartel is alleged to have kidnapped large numbers of girls and held them for sex. Jose Manuel Mireles, a doctor who has become the leader of an armed vigilante group fighting the cartel in the village of Tepalcatepec, said the cartel’s systematic use of rape as a tool of terror was the final spark that made residents take up guns this year. “They arrived at people’s houses and said, ‘Bathe your daughter, she is going to stay with me for some time,’ and they wouldn’t return her until she was pregnant,” Mireles said in a video testimony posted on the Internet.
    PHOTOS: Auto Defensa: Rough Justice in Mexico’s Lawless Mountains)

    The vigilante militias, like the one headed by Mireles, have sprung up in a string of western Mexican towns in recent months, setting up checkpoints and rooting out alleged cartel members. The government has taken a rather ambiguous stance on these militias: President Enrique Peña Nieto condemned vigilantism, but local police have arrested only a few vigilantes. In recent weeks, the government has also sent in thousands of extra federal police, soldiers and marines into Michoacán to combat the cartels. In response, the Knights Templar gunmen carried out a series of attacks both on the vigilante militias and the federal forces. On Sunday, alleged gunmen from the Knights Templar killed a vice admiral in the Mexican navy and his bodyguard on a Michoacán road.

    Back in the Merced neighborhood, many sex workers continue plying their trade independently in the shadow of Mexico’s bloody drug war and the predations of human traffickers. Patricia, who has been a sex worker in the Merced for 30 years, says she believes the majority of Mexican prostitutes are not coerced, though they face few options in life. “I have no problem with my clients. Many are good people,” Patricia says. “One even brought me medicine when I was sick.”

    However, Marcela, who was forced into sex work as a teenager, says there are often coercive pressures that cannot be seen, like threats against the sex worker or her family. “There might be some women who do it out of choice, but many are forced,” Marcela says. “Nobody, when they are a young girl, says, ‘I want to be a prostitute.’”

    MORE: There Are Sex Slaves All Over the U.S. Right Now
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