A sex worker in Mexico City

Mexico's Attorney General's Office has warned of rising incidences of human trafficking in the central state of Tlaxcala, a trade which is dominated at the local level by family-run groups, but is likely also connected to major criminal organizations.

According to special human trafficking prosecutor Nely Montealegre Diaz, a number of municipalities in the south of the state have seen rises in the trafficking of children and young women for sexual exploitation, reported Milenio. Diaz identified similar increases in human trafficking in the nearby states of Puebla, Veracruz and Oaxaca.

The prosecutor also said these operations are more commonly run by families than by major criminal organizations.

"Everyone plays a role in the organization and in the exploitation, and everyone benefits from the exploitation," Diaz told Milenio regarding the family-based trafficking groups.

Many of the victims are brought to work in the sex industry in the nation's capital, Mexico City Federal District (DF), while the United States also provides a major market for the illicit trade.

The statements came in the wake of a recent effort to combat sexual exploitation in Tlaxcala that saw two bars shut down. According to state authorities, 98 human trafficking victims have been rescued and over 150 bars have been closed down in connection with the crime during the current administration, reported Notimex.

InSight Crime Analysis

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation is a growing problem in Mexico. One then-serving congresswoman has said 800,000 individuals are trafficked through Mexico for sexual exploitation each year. Girls and women from rural areas are particularly vulnerable, as suggested by disappearance dynamics across the country.

Tlaxcala is a particular hotspot for the sex trade -- one town in the state, Tenancingo, has been branded "the human trafficking capital" of Mexico because of the high numbers of local girls who go missing there and the fact 10 percent of the population is thought to be involved in recruitment, exploitation and sales.

In September 2013, an NGO coalition said the trade was increasing and victims were getting younger as drug cartels became more deeply involved, with the trade worth an estimated $10 billion annually to Mexico's criminal groups.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Human Trafficking

The prosecutor's statement that it is mainly family-based organizations running the trade at the local level does not necessarily clash with the idea organized crime groups are heavily involved. While clans oversee recruitment in places like Tlaxcala, it is possible control shifts to larger groups when the girls are sold for exploitation in the capital. The family groups may also be required to pay criminal rent (known as "piso") to operate in areas controlled by larger criminal organizations.

Investigations

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