Erica Pearson, NY Daily News, February 12, 2012
G-men and cops are busting twice as many human traffickers, but advocates say a sickening number of immigrants are being forced into prostitution in the city.
Last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement racked up 172 arrests for trafficking in the metropolitan area, up from 75 the previous year.
Most of the cases involved sexual slavery, though some of the victims worked as maids or in nightclubs for little or no pay.
The NYPD is cracking down, too, statistics show.
It busted 50 people last year for violating a state sex trafficking law, up from 19 in 2010 — though those cases also involve U.S. citizens, usually underage girls.
The immigrant trafficking rings prey on victims as young as 10, usually from impoverished areas of Southeast Asia and Latin America, ICE Special Agent in Charge James T. Hayes Jr. said.
Mexican family-run rings from Tenancingo, Tlaxcala, have cornered part of the illicit market.
Advocates say pimps from Tenancingo have coerced hundreds, if not thousands, of women to sell sex in the city.
Young Tenancingo men troll rural villages, promising women love and a bright future in America — delivering them into the hands of relatives who run hooker rings here.
The town of 10,000 is the acknowledged center of the country’s forced prostitution trade — famous for elaborate, luxury homes paid for by earnings abroad.
Lori Cohen, a lawyer with non-profit Sanctuary for Familes who works primarily with victims of Tenancingo traffickers, said her group helped about 100 international survivors last year.
“The pattern of trafficking among Mexican women is really horrific,” Cohen said. “We don’t talk about our clients as sex workers because they don’t experience it as work, they experience it as rape.”