AC: "The cartels are diversifying their business interests."

Length: 6:53

LARGE (79.5 MB) ----- SMALL (8.4 MB)

Michael reports on the human trafficking 'business' that the drug cartels are now invested in, with interviews from people who have been victimized by the cartels. Any lucrative business seems to be fair game as they muscle into even legitimate areas in order to diversify their revenue streams.

JOHN ROBERTS: President Obama wrapped up the North American leaders summit in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the meeting, he defended Mexican President Felipe Calderon's battle against the drug cartels. There have been accusations from some in Washington that Calderon's government is sacrificing human rights to win the war. Here is President Obama's response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am confident that, as the national police are trained, as the coordination between the military and local police officials is improved, there is going to be increased transparency and accountability and that human rights will be observed.

The biggest, by far, violators of human rights right now are the cartels themselves that are kidnapping people and extorting people and encouraging corruption in these regions. That's what needs to be stopped.


ROBERTS: The president also touched on immigration, calling it a broken system. For the cartels, however, illegal immigration is a booming industry and a bloody one, at that. They are not just smuggling narcotics across the border.

With tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report, here's CNN's Michael Ware.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a tale of kidnap, imprisonment, and worse -- much worse. It's the story of those who fall prey to Mexico's drug cartels because of their hope to come to America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (speaking foreign language)

GRAPHIC: Because they didn't let me free, they raped me.

WARE: I cannot tell you her name, nor anyone else's in this story. Nor can I show you their faces or tell you where I met them. Because if I did, they say, they would almost certainly be killed.

That's because the violent drug cartels have a new and lucrative business. Think of it as a hostile takeover, the people smuggling business.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (speaking foreign language)

GRAPHIC: We were very scared because these men were very bad. They don't have a soul. They can just kill an immigrant without a thought because to them, we don't count for anything.

WARE: This woman fled the poverty of her hometown, the seventh of 12 children. As hundreds do every week in Central America, she headed north to Mexico, bound for the U.S., only to be seized by one of the most brutal cartels in the business, Los Zetas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (speaking foreign language)

GRAPHIC: We boarded the train, when the train arrived to (BLANKED), many vans drove by with members of Los Zetas. They kidnapped us and took us to a secret location.

WARE: The cartel ransom them off for whatever they can get, selling them back to families who barely could pay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They control all the routes. They have the infrastructure. They have the money. They have the people. They have the guns. They have everything right now to control everything.

WARE: This man is one of few working with the cartel's victims. He tells us the cartel's new business, human trafficking, is flourishing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. This is not only a drugs issue. It's getting money. Where come from the money, they don't care.

WARE: And some of the money is used for bribery. When the car carrying the young woman in our story arrived at an immigration police checkpoint, she hoped her ordeal with the cartel was over. But she says the immigration officials were in on it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (speaking foreign language)

GRAPHIC: I was telling myself, thank God, something is going to happen the instant an immigration officer approaches. But the kidnapper in the car said he was a member of an organization without name, and made some hand signal, and the immigration officer said, "OK, go through."

WARE: This is another woman who was held by a cartel. Her family was unable to pay a ransom, so for four months she was forced to work, cooking for the other hostages and the cartel kidnappers themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (speaking foreign language)

GRAPHIC: While I was kept in the safe house I found out a lot of things about the cartel, because being the cook, I had to serve them. I had to attend to them, bring them their beer and their food when they were in their meetings.

WARE: She says she was also ordered to take food to prisoners shackled in makeshift torture chambers, and to wash the clothes of the cartel jailers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (speaking foreign language)

GRAPHIC: Because I washed their clothes, it was always bloody. I didn't realize why. But then I realized the people tied and cuffed, they chopped them into pieces, then burned so there was no evidence of that.

WARE: The men chopped into pieces, she says, were hostages who could not pay or more often, they were the men they call coyotes, the Mexicans who specialize in smuggling people across the U.S. border. The cartels literally butchering their competition.

And anything that makes cartels like Los Zetas stronger is a threat to America, particularly when it offers a new mean of importing more drugs.

RALPH REYES, D.E.A. MEXICO & CENTRAL AMERICA CHIEF: The Zetas are a prime example of an organization that has, from a traditional perspective, looked into other areas of making money, specifically with the alien smuggling situation. It is a means of introducing drugs into the United States.

WARE: And that means only one thing: many more horror stories to come.


ROBERTS: Michael Ware joins us now live from Guadalajara.

And Michael, the women in your piece, do we know what will happen next to them?

WARE: The short answer to that, John, is no. They don't know what will become of them. The people caring for them don't know what will become of them.

They're caught in a limbo, John. They can't move forward to the United States. They can't move backwards to their impoverished families. They are literally caught in the middle.

So we are going to have to monitor their fate and see what becomes of them, because they are very much a barometer of the human tragedy that is now about to unfold for those who are trying to get to the United States through Mexico -- John.

ROBERTS: And these cartels, Michael, first drug smuggling, now human trafficking. Is there any business they won't get into as long as there's money to be made?

WARE: Absolutely not. One would imagine, as the DEA tells us, that the cartels are under pressure from the Mexican government's military operations, from interdiction from U.S. forces at the border. So they're looking for other revenue streams.

However, other people will tell you that, in hard economic times, like any good company following any decent business model, the cartels are diversifying their business interests.

So from here on in, it's virtually fair game for any illicit and sometimes legal businesses that are operating in areas controlled by the cartels. Soon it will be the taxis, the hotels and goodness knows what next, John.

ROBERTS: Well, so far, though, not exactly a decent business model. Michael Ware for us in Guadalajara. Michael, thanks so much.