Officials are not aware of the real scope of people trafficking in Mexico, which has become a "paradise" for those involved in this type of crime, expert Alicia Mesa Bribiesca told Efe.

"The problem we have in Mexico is that the authorities have not detected the problem. This is an indicator that they are not focused on it. And not seeing it is not making a commitment with adequate legislation and public policies," Mesa Bribiesca, who is with the Latin American Observatory against People Trafficking, said.

"What's more, (Mexico) is a paradise for sexual tourism and people trafficking," the expert, who is also a representative of the Federal District Observatory against People Trafficking, said.

Between 16,000 and 20,000 individuals are involved in people trafficking in Mexico, Mesa Bribiesca said, citing figures from the Attorney General's Office.

"I believe it's many more," Mesa Bribiesca said, noting that the best figures come from foreign sources.

"On the other hand, at the international level via the United Nations, we know that we are the top or number two country, we compete with Thailand in sexual tourism involving girls, boys and teenagers," the expert said.

Mesa Bribiesca joined other experts Tuesday in presenting the 2nd Report on Human Rights in People Trafficking Aimed at Sexual Exploitation in the Federal District.

People trafficking is equal to drug trafficking in terms of the amount of money it generates in Mexico, Federal District Human Rights Commission chairman Luis Gonzalez Placencia said.

Victims of sexual exploitation in Mexico City neighborhoods, such as La Merced, are "increasingly young," with some just 13, and they fall victim to corruption networks "that get them Federal Electoral Institute identification cards so they can enter hotels as adults," Mesa Bribiesca said.

Mexico City is plagued by "significant delays in the detection and pursuit" of criminals involved in this crime, the report said.

The capital also has "serious difficulties in analyzing in a consistent manner information" about trafficking, murders of women and everything related to pornography, procuring, sexual tourism, corruption of minors and kidnappings, the report said.

Legislation alone is insufficient because the sexual exploitation networks are "a new form of slavery" in which victims are subjected to violence, including "femicides" in some cases, the report said.

Crimes against women "have existed for many years, fostered by silence" in Mexico, the AG's office, which has a special prosecutor to handle these types of crimes, said.

Investigations of crimes against women have increased since 2008, but only 11 people were arrested and 110 victims assisted in the January-November 2011 period, the AG's office said.

Crimes against women are most common in Baja California, Veracruz, Guanajuato, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Mexico states. EFE