Expert: Drug Cartels Also Involved in Sex Trade

The head of a company that provides security for American citizens traveling in Mexico says the powerful drug cartels are branching out into the $40-billion-a-year sex trafficking industry.

Cartels will kidnap children and young people, demand ransom, but in many cases never return the victims, according to Brad Barker with Halo Security, in town for Border Security Expo 2011 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

He said a family might pay $100,000 ransom, but the kidnap victim can be worth much more in the sex market.

“This person can be held in captivity, they can be filmed doing sex acts, they can be sold on the Internet throughout the world and make 10 times that amount of money. So why would they return the person to their family?”

There are cases where Americans have been targeted by the cartels, which will pay an untold amount of money for what they want, Barker said.

“A young girl with a certain complexion — blond hair, blue eyes — or twins. That will dramatically increase the value of the potential victim.”

Kidnappings for the sex trade are not limited to Mexico, Barker said.

“There is also a domestic issue here. Someone could be taken from one end of town to the other end of town.”

He said kidnappers are using social media to target victims.

“By creating a false profile, when someone engages you and talks about you guys were at the same party, this person now wounds familiar to you, and your defenses and your guard is going to come down, increasing your vulnerability.”

Parents need to be very aware of what their children are posting, said Barker.

“It’s visible by a lot of people who have the capability to access your account, either by permission or without, by creating a false profile and that’s where it starts to get really scary.”

In many cases, victims kidnapped for the sex trade become addicted to drugs or die, Barker said.

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