A new documentary by Fusion tells the story of Tenancingo, Mexico — just a few hours south of Mexico City. Tenancingo is in the Mexican state that is the single largest source of sex slaves who are sent to the U.S., according to the U.S. State Department.
Fusion’s documentary, “Pimp City: A Journey to the Center of the Sex Slave Trade,” takes place on both sides of the border: in Tenancingo and in Queens, New York. Many of the women taken in Tenancingo wind up working in Queens.
Among those interviewed by the Fusion team are a woman named Miranda, who was taken as a 14-year-old in Tenancingo by a local man who forced her to become a sex slave, and a Tenancingo man now in prison for trafficking, who explains how he got into the business.
Alice Brennan, producer of “Pimp City,” discusses the documentary with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.
Interview Highlights: Alice Brennan
On the girls forced into the sex trade
“Miranda’s story is, unfortunately, brutally common. She was 14, sitting in a park in a small town in Mexico and a man who identified himself as ‘Rodolfo’ introduced himself to her and eventually kidnapped her. Through his family network, he forced her into prostitution, and trafficked her to Queens, where she was forced into a life of being a sex slave. As you just heard in that clip, she’d see up to 60 men a day — $35 each in 15 minute increments. It’s just– it’s incredible.”
On the clients and network
“Men hang around — especially in New York — men hang around subway stations handing out cards. They’re called ‘chica cards.’ Often, they’ll be advertising things like children’s birthday parties, flowers, balloons… When in fact on the back of the card there is a cell phone number. And you can call the cell phone number and you will have a girl either delivered to you or you can go to a specific place, as well. These girls are transported all around the country, as well. That was something that was really alarming to us — the broad network of drivers, of guards. The girls would be transported to farms, would be transported to factories, to industrial areas to service up to 60 men a day.”
On the nature of the sex trade before it reaches the United States
“It is something that has become intergenerational in Tenancingo. I mean, I grew up in a town where farming and carpentry was the thing to do. In Tenancingo, it just so happens that sex trafficking is the trade. So these young boys are taught that it’s not only okay, but this is how you make money. This is your path in life.”
- Alice Brennan, investigative producer for Fusion who produced “Pimp City: A Journey to the Center of the Sex Slave Trade.” She tweets @alicitabrennan.