May 17th, 2013
03:04 PM ET

Mexican sex traffickers moving into U.S.

By Krupskaia Alis and Rafael Romo, CNN
Joanna moves her hands nervously as she speaks.  Her oversized, golden earrings rattle as she shakes her head to make a point.  Joanna is not her real name.  She's speaking on the condition that CNN will protect her privacy and not disclose her real name.  She's only 16 years old, but has already experienced a lifetime of horror, abuse and torture.  She's a former sex slave.

It all started when she met a charming man.  "I was in a normal relationship with him for three months," she says.  At the time she was only 14 years old.  She was treated like royalty and fell in love.  A few months later he asked her to elope and she agreed.

"He promised that we would get a house and that we would raise children.  I was naïve and believed everything he said.  We started living together in July and by September he was already forcing me to work as a prostitute," Joanna said.

By then it had become painfully clear that Joanna's boyfriend was in reality her captor, a pimp who preyed on young, vulnerable teenagers whom he recruited in central Mexico with the purpose of forcing them into prostitution. FULL POST

October 15th, 2012
12:11 PM ET

Horrific use of child soldiers rising in Colombia, report finds

Sara Morales is in her early 20s, but already, she says, she's been to hell and back. The Colombian woman who lives in Bogota says she was forcibly recruited by the main guerrilla group in her country when she was just a young girl.

"When I was only 11 years-old I was raped by FARC guerrillas and for 11 years I was abused and exploited by them," Morales said.

FARC is a Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a leftist guerrilla group that has been at war with the Colombian government for about five decades.

Stories about children kidnapped or forcibly recruited by guerrilla groups came back into focus in 2006 when the Colombian government released a video confiscated during an army raid. The video showed squads of young kids being trained as guerrilla warriors in the middle of the jungle.


July 19th, 2012
01:07 PM ET

Teen's brothel escape triggers Mexico clampdown

By Rafael Romo, CNN - They were only 14 years old, cousins from a small town in central Mexico, when a fun trip to the local fair turned into a nightmare of drugs and forced prostitution.

As Maria and Lupe - CNN has changed their names to protect their identities - were waiting by the highway for their early evening bus home,  they say a semi-tractor trailer stopped right in front of them and two men got out.

There were no conversations. It all happened very quickly, the cousins say. "They were two men who were wearing black masks like hoodies. We couldn't see their faces," Maria said.

Lupe says she didn't even have time to react. "I only felt that they put something on my nose and that's all I remember. The last thing I remember is yelling for help," Lupe said.


October 5th, 2011
05:07 PM ET

Underage prostitutes rescued in Peru

Peruvian police have rescued 244 women, including 10 underage girls, who were being forced to work as prostitutes in a remote gold mining camp.

During one of the raids last weekend, authorities found a 13-year-old girl, according to Peruvian Security Assistant Secretary Luis Alberto Otarola.

“I personally witnessed the situation she was in,” he said. “They are all forced into cruel practices of sexual exploitation.”

Four men were arrested and face charges of human trafficking and forced prostitution. Trucks with contraband were also seized in the raid, officials said. FULL POST

February 18th, 2011
11:52 AM ET

Promise of better life leads to nightmare of sexual slavery

Across Mexico, young girls dream of escaping their small towns for the big cities. They dream of a good job and a better life in the United States.

That was the case of "Claudia," a name given to protect her identity. Her dream of a better life quickly evolved into a nightmare. FULL POST