Thursday, July 28, 2011

On the Human Trade

I thought that this Washington Post article on sex trafficking and the Zetas gets it wrong in a number of ways. First of all, there's this:
A Mexican “padrote,” or godfather, from a trafficking stronghold in Tlaxcala state, got 40 years in Atlanta in March for forcing 10 girls, one of them 14, into immigrating north for prostitution.
Actually, "padrino" is "godfather". "Padrote" is "godfather" strictly in the context of employing women and girls for the sale of sex, which makes it "pimp". Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I can think of no circumstance outside of prostitution in which "padrote" is used.

More importantly, though, the headline promises a picture of the drug gangs' move into human trafficking, but never gets much beyond anecdotes, and offers no good sense of the amount of money they are now earning, why they branched out into people smuggling, and the relationship between the capos at the top of the food chain and the coyotes who have long controlled the racket on the ground. Worse still, the article focuses exclusively on the sex trade. That's certainly worth looking into, but it seems logical to me that, with hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans paying coyotes thousands of dollars to sneak into the US on an annual basis, the sex trade is not driving the broader human smuggling industry. Indeed, it seems like a very small subset of it. However, maybe my issue is more with the misleading headline.

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