Sex, Underground: The Underground Sex Economy and Latinas' Bodies in America's Sex Trafficking Capitals [REPORT]
Researchers from the Urban Institute conducted their own study, one which sought to understand the size and structure of the underground commercial sex economy in eight major U.S. cities. They interviewed pimps, prostitutes and law enforcement officials between 2003 and 2007; a total of 142 convicted pimps, prostitutes and child pornographers were interviewed, including 23 in Atlanta. The incentives for interviews were $50 gift cards.
Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington, D.C were examined by researchers, in an attempt to discover the extent of the "underground sex economy," which includes not only prostitution, but also sex trafficking of adults and children and child pornography.
The Urban Institute report unearthed a number of facts about the sex industry as it relates to the Latino community. According to the study, Miami brothels are primarily operated by Hispanic or Latino men or women. The women trafficked in these brothels typically hail from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, being forced into the underground due to smuggling debts.
In Dallas, there has been an increase in young Hispanic girls who are trafficked by adult Hispanic female family members, and in most cases the adult female trafficker is addicted to methamphetamine and they are trafficking their daughter for drug money. Also in Dallas, Hispanic men and women own massage parlors, and there are many women who are voluntarily involved in sex work.
Northwest/Northeast D.C., there's a large Hispanic population, and like in San Diego, Calif., there are number of Latino male-run brothels (including migrant camp brothels). The employees of these brothels are normally Hispanic women, and Hispanic men -- typically migrant workers -- are the customers. The women are supplied to these brothels through gang, drug, weapon, and criminal enterprises throughout Mexico and Central and South America. Hispanics pimps and sex workers tend to be less involved in escort services, erotic massage parlors, and the street and internet as venues for sex.
"Law enforcement reported that the recent economic revitalization of certain parts of D.C. have increased the number of people in the city, thereby increasing the level of adult and child sex trafficking," the report reads.
Law enforcement found that it was difficult to find anyone within the Hispanic community who was willing to talk about what takes place in migrant camp brothels, where there are more elements of visible sex trafficking. Women tend to be brought to camps during the summer, and moved to indoor brothels in different cities. The camps are often in remote places, and traffickers hire drivers to take these women to fields where the women set up tents for sexual interaction. They also sometimes sell beer and food. The pimps keep their distance, staying far from the sexual exchanges.
"The Hispanic side is still about the money. There is some organization there, but it's not anything like the Asian organization. That is truly organized crime. That ranges clear back to China. It's not by chance that they pay somebody just to come over here, it starts there. They pay whoever they pay and that person is linked up with over here, and whoever they get in contact with, that whole chain is linked up together," said a San Diego Law Enforcement Official.
In the underground sex capital, Latino brothels are primarily run by Latinos, many from Tenancingo and Tiaxcala, Mexico. The employees are Mexican women who were smuggled in, typically between the ages of 16 and 35 years old, and also from Tenancigo and Tiaxcala. They earn about $30/15 min; and younger, more attractive women may charge $45-$50/15 min. Hispanic men are the only customers, and some places accept men from only specific towns in Mexico. The workers at these brothels are often moved from city to city.
Nationwide, 80 percent of clients at Latino brothels are going to be Hispanic males. Sex trade also occurs in the backroom of cantina bars, where they also sell dollar dances to Hispanic clientele. Women, in this scenarios, are generally allowed to keep some proceeds.
Statistics revealed by the study include, 33 percent of "sex workers" were black, 17 percent white, 11 percent Hispanic, 8 percent multiracial, and 30 percent did not identify their race. About 78 percent were female.
Also, Atlanta has a large number of "Latino brothels," where girls from Mexico worked after being promised a "better life" by pimps. About 80 percent of Hispanic brothel clients in Atlanta are Hispanic males. Also, about 65 percent of pimps in the study were black, 10 percent Hispanic, 8 percent white, 8 percent "mixed" and 3 percent Asian. About 6 percent were of "unknown" race -- 31.5 percent of pimps said they became pimps because of "family involvement."
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