According to a Mexican non-profit organization, the Attorney General’s Office has registered 75,000 minors as missing since 2006, many of them likely sold to sex trafficking rings.
The National Foundation for Investigations into Stolen and Disappeared Children (Fundacion Nacional de Investigaciones de Niños Robados y Desaparecidos) says that an average of 41 children a day have been reported missing over the past five years. Only one in 10 cases handled by the foundation end with the child being rescued, the organization’s spokeswoman said. According to data from Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office, 30,000 of the 75,000 children reported missing have been rescued.
According to a report prepared last year for the United Nations, up to 35,000 minors have been recruited by drug trafficking gangs since 2006. Under Mexican law, minors cannot serve prison sentences longer than three years, which may explain why some gangs have turned to recruiting teen hitmen, including 14-year-old Edgar Jimenez, alias “El Ponchis,” a U.S. citizen charged with kidnapping and homicide in July.
Minors are also recruited into the sex trade. Many of Mexico’s missing women and girls may be working in forced prostitution, the foundation notes. According to a report published last year by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, the focus on the war against drug trafficking has forced some gangs to broaden their criminal portfolio and begin seeking profits from human and sex trafficking.
Other agencies besides the Attorney General’s Office have tracked the negative impact of Mexico’s so-called “drug war” on the youth population. According to Mexico’s Minister of Education, 30 percent of the homicides connected to organized crime involve minors.