Tenancingo, Tlaxcala: Mexico’s human trafficking and sexual slavery hub

For decades, Mexican authorities have ignored the atrocious crimes in Tenancingo, Tlaxcala, where women are forced into prostitution

Tenancingo, Tlaxcala: Mexico’s human trafficking and sexual slavery hub
Entire families participate in criminal networks to recruit, kidnap, and exploit women and force them into sexual slavery - Photo: María de Jesús Peters/EL UNIVERSAL
English 09/02/2020 14:19 Newsroom Mexico City Melissa Amezcua, Humberto Padgett, Montserrat Peralta Actualizada 14:30
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Tenancingo, a small town located in the central state of Tlaxcala, is known for human trafficking and forced prostitution. Academics and activists consider Tenancingo as the home of the most dangerous and powerful human traffickers in the country. And although several families who trafficked and exploited women, such as the Carreto Valencia family, were jailed in the U.S. for their crimes, these illegal and inhumane activities still take place in the small Mexican town.

In this Mexican town, entire families participate in criminal networks to recruit, kidnap, and exploit women and force them into sexual slavery.

The criminals often lure young girls with promises of romance, marriage, and a better life.

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The Attorney General’s Office of Tlaxacala considers that Tenancingo is one of the 16 municipalities where there us sexual exploitation and forced labor in the country.

According to legal documents EL UNIVERSAL had access to, one of the most powerful human trafficking organizations in this town is the Rojas Romero family, which has large networks to traffic and exploit women in Mexico and the United States.

According to U.S. official documents, this family of criminals has been investigated for women trafficking since 2000. In Mexico, Fredy, Noé, and Gerónimo Rojas Romero have been investigated by authorities since 2012. Fredy and Noé are accused of sexually exploiting their girlfriends and other women.

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The investigation reveals the criminals forced their victims to recruit more women, who are held in homes in Tenancingo and later sent to Irapuato, Guanajuato, where they are forced into prostitution in at least three hotels.

This criminal network is linked to other homes in Papalotla, Tlaxcala, a hotel in Acapulco, Guerrero and another in Martínez de la Torre, Veracruz, and as well as a bar and a home in Monterrey, Nuevo León.

According to official information, in the case of the Rojas Romero criminal organization, hotels, bars, and homes connect them to other human trafficking organizations in Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla; San Bartolomé, San Pablo del Monte, Santa Isabel Xiloxoxtla, and San Francisco Tetlanohcan in Tlaxcala, and Axochiapan in Morelos.

However, the main market for these criminals is Houston, Texas where are an apartment in Flaming Drive and a bar in Houston are used as locations to exploit women. According to official information, a man named Manuel “N” is in charge of criminal operations in the U.S.

According to a 2018 report titled A Panorama About Human Trafficking, women traffickers operate in small groups.

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According to Alejandra Méndez Serrano, the director of an NGO and who has researched human trafficking in Tlaxcala, this is not a problem specific to Tenancingo but rather a problem present in 23 municipalities in the state. According to the human rights activist, this crime has increased in recent years, as the result of impunity allowed by all government levels.

Between 2011 and 2017, the NGO registered at least 210 human trafficking lawsuits in Tlaxcala; however, there were only 9 jail sentences.

Moreover, the majority of human trafficking victims between 2011 and 2018 were over 18. Out of the 144 victims, only 26 were sent to shelters.

According to local authorities, the Rojas Romero organization and its members own several mansions in Tenancingo and drive luxury cars.

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