Claudia Ayala was promised work as a cleaner in a home in the United States. Her pastor, a man she had known for many years, assured her family he would organise everything with her employers – “God-fearing people” who would pay her well.
It was all a scam. Claudia was smuggled illegally into the US on the back of a trailer truck and forced to work as a prostitute in Texas. After months of being held against her will, barely fed and deprived of any contact with the outside world, she managed to escape and get back home.
Many are exploited, kidnapped, beaten and killed by the heavily armed criminal gangs, which control the highly lucrative business of human trafficking across the region. In 2010, 72 Central American would-be migrants were found murdered in northern Mexico, allegedly by the hands of Mexico’s most vicious cartel the Zetas. The Mexican army recently rescued 165 people who were travelling as undocumented migrants and were kidnapped by a drug cartel near the US border.