Sex trafficking of girls and women is occurring on a global scale and is recognized as both a violent gender-based crime and major human rights violation. Public health research demonstrates that girls and women who have been trafficked experience a multitude of physical and mental health consequences. Latin America is the source of hundreds of thousands of persons trafficked across international borders each year, yet it remains one of the most under-researched and under-funded regions on issues of sexual exploitation. According to recent reports, trafficking of women and girls into sex work, and drug cartel involvement in this form of sexual exploitation, is on the rise across Central America, Mexico, and at the U.S.-Mexico border. Women, adolescents, and undocumented migrants are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation in Mexico and Central America. In spite of the current rise in trafficking in the region, research related to developing victim assistance and public policy approaches remains limited in Mexico and Central America. The UCSD Center of Gender Equity and Health at the University of California San Diego brings together public health researchers, local NGOs, and Mexican and Central American governmental officials in order to understand the risk factors that make women and girls vulnerable to trafficking and develop interventions to prevent this human rights violation in the region.