State lawmakers to take up human trafficking measures

Posted at: 01/27/2013 4:47 PM
Updated at: 01/27/2013 4:57 PM
By: Adam Camp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Human trafficking is a serious problem in New Mexico.

The state became one of the last states to put strong criminal prohibitions against human trafficking in 2008 making it a third degree felony.

But Gov. Susanna Martinez, Mayor Richard Berry and two state representatives held a press conference abou hammering down on human traffickers during the 2013 legislative session.

The proposals include putting human traffickers on the sex offender registry if they sexually exploit a victim, like forcing the victim into prostitution; changing felonies to second degree if the victim is 16 years old or older and to a first degree felony if the victim is 15 years old or younger; and tightening the loophole for those accused of intending to traffick humans. Now, someone is charged if they officially have custody of a person.

Rep. Monica Youngblood (R-Albuquerque) and Rep. Tim Lewis (R- Rio Rancho) are both sponsoring human trafficking bills.

Lewis's proposal aimes to get the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline in public places like highway rest areas, transportation facilities, and bars and liquor establishments.

Martinez said she believes the legislation will be successful this year.

"We can't be a state that is surrounded by states with tough laws, while we have a weak one because then we become a magnet for those that say you're just gonna get slapped on the wrist and it's not going to be a big deal because New Mexico is so soft on crime," she said.