Reporter Talks to Riverside Teen Trapped in Tijuana Sex Trade
A local reporter crossed the border to do a report on Americans involved in sex slavery in Tijuana. He found a pimp from Merced and a local teen from Riverside who said she's trapped in the sex trade.Antonio Castelan, a reporter with NBC Los Angeles, went undercover in "La Zona Norte," the red light district in Tijuana that is known as a hub of sex tourism.
"It's cheap bud," said an unnamed pimp who said he was from Merced. "Sex is really cheap here."
The undercover reporter paid $40 to be introduced to a girl named Najeri, who works from a tiny stall. He told her that he was a reporter, and she spilled some of her story. She told him that she was 16 and from Riverside. It's not clear exactly how she got to Mexico and what her life was like beforehand, but she told Castelan that at some point she fell in with the "wrong crowd." Men flattered her with attention, and before she knew it, she had been trapped into the trade without an escape. Now she is forced to have sex with clients — many of them Americans with valuable dollars. She dreams of escape, but she is afraid that her pimps would track her down and kill her — and no one would even know.
"The morgue comes by the hospital and incinerates it before anybody can be alerted that an American died," she said. "That struck fear in my heart."
The child sex trade rakes in an estimated $32 million every year, mostly from Americans looking for illegal sex across the border, according to the State Human Rights Commission of Baja, California.
Recently, authorities were worried that a Kern County girl had been lured into the sex trade when they heard that she might have run away from home with her older Mexican boyfriend. Her boyfriend turned out to be married to another woman, but the 15-year-old got pregnant, married another man and is on her way back to California.
NBC will be airing more about the undercover report tonight.