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Asian crime groups smuggle people into Mexico border towns

By John Sevigny     Aug 27, 2013 in World
Tijuana - Organized crime groups from China, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are quietly moving drugs, exotic animals and other contraband across the U.S. Mexico border.
But their main products are human beings forced into prostitution.
According to Latin American risk analysis firm Southern Pulse, the state of Baja California, Mexico has become a key human trafficking destination for Chinese and other Asian mafias operating in the Northwest.
"Baja California and China have much in common – both are manufacturing and transport hubs, and both are Pacific gateways," according to a report published by Southern Pulse this week. "Both cities also have a long and complicated relationship with black markets and the criminal underworld."
The Chinesca neighborhood in Mexicali, just blocks from the US border, serves as a virtual hideout for Asian trafficking organizations, complete with secret basements and tunnels to move people and other contraband from place to place undetected, Mexican police told Insight Crime.
Towns and cities on the Mexican side of the border have long served as prostitution zones for US and Mexican customers. That makes human trafficking easier to hide, and the difference between voluntary and involuntary prostitution more difficult to detect, Telenews Noticias Mexico reported.
Unlike Mexican cartels, Asian criminal organizations in Mexico try to keep a low profile. Apart from physical abuse against those forced into prostitution, Asian mafias steer clear of headline-grabbing crimes that would expose them to the strong arm of the law.
One apparent characteristic is that "apart from violence associated with managing prostitutes, the Asian mafias are not violent," according to Telenews Noticias. "In fact, they distance themselves from the attention that homicides and kidnappings would attract."
Worldwide, some 800,000 people are trafficked across borders every year and as many as 27 million live in modern day slavery, according to a report by the Polaris Project. As many as 80 percent of the victims are women.
More about Baja california, Smuggling, Human trafficking, asian mafia, animal smuggling
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