Two Guatemalan women have been sentenced to nine-year prison terms by a Mexican court in a case involving eight children, the Attorney General's Office said.
Juana Tzoc Tziquin and Maria Tzoc Tziquin were also ordered by a federal district court in the southern state of Chiapas to pay fines of about $3,200, the AG's office said.
Investigators determined that the two women recruited minors in Guatemala on the pretext that they would help them find jobs in Mexico, federal prosecutors said.
The women would take the children away from their families and transport them to Chiapas, where they forced them to wash car windshields, sell flowers and perform in the streets of different cities in southeastern Mexico "for long hours, without any rest days and without receiving any pay," the AG's office said.
The victims "were prevented from leaving the dwelling where they were kept, as well as from leaving the place where they were taken to perform their activities, they were watched constantly and were under the threat of physical punishment and imprisonment," the AG's office said in a statement.
President Felipe Calderon signed legislation on June 13 that imposes prison terms of up to 60 years on those convicted of people trafficking, feminicide and a variety of other crimes targeting women and children.
The General Law to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Crimes Related to People Trafficking also punishes those convicted of the sexual abuse or exploitation of women or children with prison terms of 40 years.
At least 47 criminal organizations are involved in people trafficking for sexual exploitation in Mexico, victimizing about 800,000 adults and 20,000 children annually, a recent congressional report said.
People traffickers operate in the states of Veracruz, Chiapas, Puebla, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, Baja California, Chihuahua, Guerrero and Quintana Roo, as well as in Central America, the report said.
People trafficking generates some 372 billion pesos (nearly $26.57 billion) annually in Mexico, non-governmental organizations say. EFE