A police raid in southern Mexico has rescued dozens of people from a human trafficking gang.
The captives were indigenous people native to a state that borders Guatemala. CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock detailed the case in this report.
Mexican authorities in state of Oaxaca freed 63 people from modern-day slavery – the majority of them children, and six of whom were less than two-years- old.
While dressed up as clowns, victims were forced to perform routines and beg for cash from drivers to make money for a human trafficking gang. Eleven suspects were detained.
“There are many farms where slavery is practiced. Where we see situations such as this one, where the victims are trapped, they are paid nothing, and worse, when they are minors,” said Rosi Orozco, president of United Against Trafficking.
Despite Rosi’s work, trafficking in Mexico was a growing problem. The rescued victims were Tzotzil Mayans, an indigenous people from Mexico’s mountainous and impoverished south, where human trafficking is a serious issue.
Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission said, as of 2016, that half a million people were caught up in modern-day slavery, and that every year, nearly 21,000 minors – almost half of them indigenous girls – were added to their number.
Enrique Garfinas was a convicted human trafficker, who now campaigns against the practice. “You look for vulnerable people, vulernable women, either economically or with family problems. There comes a point when you stop seeing them as human beings, because the only thing you’re looking for is to make the most money possible out of them,” explained Garfinas.
Yet, it was not a problem that can be fixed without the commitment of the authorities. “Mexico has laws to combat, punish and eradicate human trafficking, but this law needs to be upheld, and in some states that hasn’t happened,” said Orozco.
The 63 trafficking victims are now in the care of the state authorities, but with more being captured daily into this clandestine industry, the authorities’ win may be just the start of the fightback.