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Sex Trafficking in a Border Community: A Field Study of Sex Trafficking in Tijuana, Mexico

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2007, $297,264)

Tijuana, the largest city in Mexico's northern border, has long been a major tourism and weekend destination for Southern Californians. It is hypothesized that persons trafficked from regions south of Tijuana may be victimized in Mexico by US citizens rather than crossing into the US. An understanding of the nature and scope of sex trafficking in this area is especially important to U.S law enforcement and social service agencies along the southern border, who deal with spillover effects (trafficking of women from that area into the US, associated crimes, and joint investigations with the counterparts in Mexico).

The study will look at the following items:

· Core nature and extent questions, including (1) an examination of the factors underlying the movement of women from the interior of Mexico and other Latin American countries into Tijuana for prostitution, (2) and exploration of the organizational and business characteristics of sex trafficking in Tijuana, and (3) an investigation of the methods of recruiting, transporting and managing women during trafficking and prostitution.

· Questions regarding connections between human trafficking and other criminal activities. The researchers plan to explore the connection between human trafficking and other criminal enterprises in Tijuana's underworld (including connections with crime in the U.S.). Although some research indicates that migrant smugglers in general do not work with traditional crime groups, it is not clear how this observation may hold in the context of sex trafficking and prostitution. This inquiry is particular pertinent in the Tijuana context, as the city is a major transit center for migrant smuggling and drug trafficking into the U.S. The researchers want to know whether sex traffickers in Tijuana make use of the human and/or drug trafficking networks to move prostitutes into the U.S.

· Challenges of bilateral criminal justice. The researchers will assess the challenges of combating sex trafficking and explore effective strategies applicable to bilateral criminal justice, public health efforts, human rights, and governance efforts. Because of the different socio-political environments, the U.S. and Mexican governments are often at odds with each others on issues ranging from human smuggling, sex tourism, and drug trafficking. Based on first hand data from the illicit enterprise and law enforcement and government officials, this study will explore effective ways for authorities from both countries to work together in suppressing cross-border sex trafficking and sex tourism.


Date Created: July 15, 2007