TIJUANA (Border Report) — The number of so-called “sex servers” in Tijuana has nearly doubled in the last four years, according to the city’s medical services office.

In 2018, the agency issued almost 5,500 permits to women who wanted to work as prostitutes in Tijuana. The number is now at 10,774 active permits, according to the agency’s numbers.

But Gerardo López Montes, head of Tijuana’s Public Health office, indicated many women are failing to register and document their intent to work in the sex industry.

He believes there could be as many as 30,000 sex workers currently in Tijuana.

“We are trying to verify permits every day, we’re inspecting places where sex servers work to make sure they are registered and following protocols,” said López Montes. “We’re trying to get them to comply, this is to the benefit of all who work in this industry.”

He said registration by prostitutes is a requirement and those without this permit can’t work.

Last weekend, a sting operation netted 27 women who were working without a permit.

Tijuana City Manager Jorge Salazar Miramontes said the sex industry in Tijuana used to be centered in one neighborhood near the border. Nowadays, sex workers can now be found throughout the city.

“We’re seeing them on the east side and other areas,” he said.

When asked about human trafficking being the primary reason for the increased number of sex servers in her city, Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero said migration was the real factor.

“Nowadays, it’s not just women from Mexico, they’re foreigners from places like Venezuela and Colombia who come here to work. Some leave but others take their place and that’s why the number has doubled,” Caballero said.

The mayor announced more patrols and inspections of bars are planned to make sure the women have their permits and are being tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases.

Caballero said they are being more vigilant following an increase in reported cases of gonorrhea and other STDs.

She did not specify how many cases have been confirmed but said they were traced to one club.

“We had an outbreak in one bar, two girls tested positive,” said Caballero. “We are going to protect our citizens … the sex servers are also citizens so we will protect them as well, they are the ones at greater risk.”

Aside from gonorrhea, cases of hepatitis and Rickettsia have also been reported.

Rickettsia causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever and can cause serious damage to internal organs such as kidneys and the heart.