Forty underage girls at risk of being trafficked were rescued last Saturday in Puerto Vallarta by the coordinated efforts of various law enforcement agencies, mainly federal. The majority were between 13 and 15 years old.
The girls had been invited to a birthday party at a local residence.There, they were given alcoholic beverages by various men of foreign extraction.According to local news reports, the “party” was interrupted by authorities, who arrested several persons involved, including service staff, taxi drivers, and some suspected human traffickers. Most of the “foreigners” had already left, it was reported.
The girls, who according to authorities suffered no physical abuse at the hands of the would-be captors, were handed over to their respective families after statements were taken. Investigators believe, upon finding falsified passports on the property, that the foreigners present at had personally selected the invited minors, with the purpose of trafficking them abroad.
According to Juan Manuel Estrada, director of FIND, a Guadalajara-based children’s rights organization, a U.S. criminal organization is most likely behind the “parties” being held in Vallarta, which he told the Notimex news agency were an “open secret” in the resort town. Estrada said he had filed a complaint warning of the situation with municipal authorities as far back as November of last year.
Estrada also said the girls were paid to attend last weekend’s party.