The recent case of a minor who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a Puerto Vallarta official has increased concern about the trafficking networks and child prostitution in the city due to the ineffectiveness of the authorities.
In Puerto Vallarta, there are local networks dedicated to the sexual exploitation of children that, together with international organizations that traffic in women, have made this resort town a destination for sex tourism.
At the end of July, a ten-year-old girl was sexually abused by a municipal official, who was caught with the minor naked in his vehicle. This case reopened the concern of women’s support groups about the existence of child prostitution networks in the port that operate sheltered by the ineffectiveness of local and federal authorities. And in this case, a city official within the police department, actively participating in sexual abuse of a minor in public.
Sandra Quiñones is the coordinator in Puerto Vallarta of the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights and said that the resort is known for the beauty of its beaches, but it has also become popular as a place where tourists come to pay for sexual services for girls and young women.
The lawyer leads the defense of the minor recently found with a city official (whose identity has not been released) and ensures that in the case there are indications that the official Luis Alonso “N” had abused other minors possibly as part of a dedicated organization to pedophilia.
“What happened is not an isolated event, he had already studied her, he was waiting for her like all pedophile behavior. We corroborate that she is not the first girl who is attacked by this person, there are many things that begin to tell us that there is a pattern,” she said.
The 2014 National Diagnosis on Human Trafficking in Mexico points to the tourist cities of Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta as poles of attraction for trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation and where networks of child sexual exploitation, child pornography, and sex tourism.
Quiñones and other activists have verified that a local organization operates in the port that, with the help of public transport drivers and street vendors, deprive girls between 13 and 17 years old with certain characteristics of their liberty for a few days to force them to provide services, sex to tourists and locals. In fact, in July 2018, 28 minors were freed and five people – including several taxi drivers – were arrested when dismantling a trafficking network.
Minors are captured for up to two weeks and taken somewhere in the port without their consent where they are drugged to prostitute them. The less sexual experience you have, the higher the charge for each sexual encounter, the lawyer explained.
“They take the girl, move her 3 or 4 times to national and local consumers in small hotels, riding halls (places where drugs are consumed) or in guest houses for between $400 pesos ($18.6 dollars) and $600 pesos ($28 dollars). They ask how many times they have had sex and depending on that is the charge,” she said.
These local networks serve as a link with international organizations that “are more careful in the operation” and have more resources for renting houses or specific places where “parties” are held where tourists can buy women who are brought from other places.
The Jalisco State Human Rights Commission (CEDHJ) warned in a special report in 2019 that “the red light” of Puerto Vallarta “is human trafficking” and denounced that the local authorities had not taken the necessary actions “to comply with the requirements of the gender alert”, a protection mechanism for women from the federal and state governments.
María Antonia Chávez, president of the international organization Observa La Trata, said that it is not the first time that an event of this nature has come to light and recalled the case of Thomas White, an American who for 7 years abused and facilitated the prostitution of minors in his home in Puerto Vallarta. In all these years, local and national authorities have not implemented prevention strategies and neither have they investigated the cases that have been disclosed by the media, the expert said.
“Among these crimes, there is complicity and co-responsibility of officials. Throughout the country and particularly in Puerto Vallarta, there are such natural ways to exercise failed access to justice,” he said. The specialists assured that the case of abuse of the minor under 10 years has served society to pressure the authorities to investigate and punish these crimes.
Puerto Vallarta City Council spokesperson skirted this city’s responsibility for keeping children safe in Puerto Vallarta, explained that this matter belongs to the federal authorities.