The human and sex trafficking merger

November 10, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Ricardo Swire

While law enforcement interdicts and confiscates drugs and contraband on the high seas, there is a silent crime that if left unchecked will become a bigger internal security problem for Caribbean Islands.

Human/sex trafficking is part of modern slavery and a multi-billion dollar criminal industry. The majority of sex trafficking is international. America’s Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) assessed the average age that girls become victims of prostitution as between twelve and fourteen. Transnational traffickers force girls, boys and transgender youths to become prostitutes between the ages of eleven and thirteen.

After the illegal drugs trade, human trafficking is level with the illegal arms trade for second largest criminal industry worldwide. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates human trafficking generates US$150 billion per year, US$99 billion contributed by sexual exploitation schemes. Patterns show that transnational criminal organizations have consolidated human/sex trafficking and illegal immigration businesses, as part of efforts to outmaneuver national security initiatives. Human trafficking is considered the fastest growing global crime.

Transnational traffickers’ primary targets are women and children. Both categories of victim share one essential experience, the loss of freedom. A cross reference of records showed human traffickers deny privilege of choice to 20.9 million people globally, 1.2 million being children. In 2015 the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reported that one out of five runaways was a possible child sex trafficking victim. Between 600,000 and 800,000 people are smuggled across international borders each year. Eighty percent are females and fifty percent children.

The International Organization for Migration’s Caribbean study found three major forms of human trafficking operating in the region. They were trafficking for the purpose of labor, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. Victims were subjugated for commercial sex that included prostitution, stripping, pornography, live-sex shows and other acts, all lifestyles that encourage illegal guns and drugs as support systems.

Sex trafficking usually results from “debt bondage,” the underworld’s social condition where young women and girls are forced to remain prostitutes, because of incurred “debt” unknowingly billed by traffickers during the recruitment, transportation or “sale” stages of cross border travels. Traffickers insist victims settle such obligations before freedom can be considered. Two years ago internal security officials in Roseau, Dominica dismantled a human trafficking syndicate that smuggled migrants to the French Caribbean island Guadeloupe.

Next door, Dutch Antilles’ islands are precious to transnational human/sex traffickers. They offer opportunities in the commercial sex industry, not legally available in other Caribbean islands. Dutch Antilles territories are governed by mother country legislation that allows controlled prostitution. The six Caribbean Dutch speaking islands are divided into two groups, St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius are the SSS Islands, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao referred to as the ABC islands.

Reports indicate the Campo Alegre adult resort and nightclub in Curacao, vaunts more than 120 “employees”, female sex workers who mostly originate from the Dominican Republic and Colombia. The special migrants are officially granted three month prostitution visas. Compliance requires formal registration as prostitutes with the local Vice & Morals Police Department. Internal security reports show a visa application process that is easy to fulfill but difficult to understand. A tropical mystique that attracts human/sex traffickers.

In July 2015 Antigua’s national security mechanisms stopped two transnational human trafficking organizations. Both moved Cuban and Syrian migrants to the United States Virgin Islands via Antigua. In August 2015 St Lucian authorities uncovered a transnational human trafficking syndicate that involved several Asian students. Young migrants lured to the Caribbean island to attend studies at a non-existent educational facility.

A 2016 US Federal affidavit highlighted one human/sex trafficking ring that manipulated Cuban women to be part of its prostitution section. The organizer, a male Cuban living in America, recruited females in Cuba with solicitations of arranged trips and accommodations in America. His transportation fee was advertised at US$20,000, then unexpectedly increased to US$55,000. Ensnared women, unable to pay the increase, became strippers under the traffickers’ employ.

The Cuban US resident’s smuggling network traversed Cuba, Central America and Mexico. The US Federal document informed that corrupt Mexican officials and lawyers manipulated the scheme’s administrative arrangements. In June 2016 the US Federal court system convicted a male and female human trafficking team that smuggled Guatemalan migrant workers to America. The duo forced their victims to work twelve hour shifts and live in confined conditions.

Regional evidence shows an expansion of transnational human trafficking to Cuba, illegal immigration schemes usually move willing people across a country’s borders, using methods that breach the destination state’s entry laws. After America’s 2014 relaxation of diplomatic sanctions and commercial relations with Cuba, the island’s migrant numbers burgeoned, a growth linked to fears that improved US/Cuba diplomatic relations would jeopardize the special status now extended to Cuban immigrants.

Cuban nationals, labeled immigrants, are legally permitted to enter and reside in America without a visa. The Pew Research Center calculated 24, 278 Cubans who took advantage of this entry allowance in 2014 alone. The same year a multinational law enforcement team shuttered an illegal Cuba/US human trafficking operation that was active and profitable between 2004 and 2011.

The scheme’s Cuban female émigré staked her claim in human trafficking’s global US$6.6 billion. She was facilitator for safe passage, bogus identification and safe houses in the US, for mostly Cuban migrants from Ecuador through Central America and Mexico. Geopolitically Ecuador is the only South American country without an enforced Cuban visa stipulation. For the fiscal year 2015 4,473 Cubans attempted to enter America from the sea. After 2016’s first ten months 46,635 Cubans arrived in the US.

Most migrants used either the Florida Straits, Caribbean Sea or Atlantic Ocean routes, to go ashore on the US’ southeastern coast. Would be terrorists and criminals, with sophisticated transportation, can access the same routes and methods. On October 1st 2016 the US Coast Guard (USCG) 7th District, based in Miami Florida, recorded names of 332 Cubans, who tried to illegally migrate to America via similar ocean routes. Up to October 15th 2016 USCG resources sent back 109 Cubans to Bahia de Cabañas bay in Santiago de Cuba. The same day a USCG Cutter class ship repatriated seven Cubans in one operation, then 76 in another exercise.









Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.


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