Human trafficking is commonly referred to as the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, second only to the lucrative and illicit drug trade. In the past decade human trafficking has become a global epidemic with an estimated 21 to 30 million people currently enslaved. Since human trafficking is so lucrative, many drug traffickers are doing what any money-motivated businessperson would do: expanding their business into a new market; namely, human trafficking.
Supply and Demand
Following the economic laws of supply and demand, Latin American drug traffickers and criminal organizations have decided to increase profits by diversifying their market to include the trafficking of drugs, labor and sex. Drug cartels have been accused of using their illicit markets to traffic Central American children for the purpose of sexual exploitation in the United States. Entire towns whose economy was once funded by profits from the illicit drug trade now make their living off the procurement, trafficking and exploitation of women and children in the sex trade. San Miguel Tenacingo, a small Mexican town located just outside Mexico City is commonly known as the city that sex trafficking built where one city official estimated that 30-50 percent of the town’s population are involved in the illicit sex trade. Being involved in the sex trade is not condemned; in fact it is almost encouraged. A local university interviewed young boys from San Miguel Tenacingo and found that 16 percent wanted to be a pimp when they grew up and 44 percent had friends who said they wanted to be one.
Sale of Human Bodies
Traffickers and criminals involved with organized crime that sell human beings see no difference between abusing a woman’s body by either forcing her to swallow bags of drugs or forcing a woman to have sex with hundreds of men. For traffickers, it doesn’t matter which product is being sold, both drugs and sex are lucrative industries. The difference between the two markets is that a shipment of drugs can be sold only once before it is consumed, but a human being’s body can be sold and resold for years at a time. As one trafficker explained I sell crack, I sell it, it’s gone, I sell a girl, she’s still there. Gangs in the United States are increasingly turning to selling children for sex. The problem has become so common that in the past year the leaders of three of the most violent and brutal gangs in the United States have been jailed for their involvement with child sex trafficking. Weak human trafficking laws in the United States coupled with harsh drug laws make it less risky for gangs and criminal organizations to traffic humans. The sad truth is that for traffickers, the more money that can be made for the least amount of risk is the better option, which is the reason drug traffickers have moved into sex trafficking.