Posted at: 01/27/2013 9:30 PM
Updated at: 01/27/2013 10:25 PM
By: Adam Camp, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Human traffickers are getting off too easy, state officials said.
Gov. Susana Martinez, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and other New Mexico lawmakers spoke at the Family Advocacy Center in Albuquerque Sunday afternoon about what they plan to do about it.
Rep. Monica Youngblood (R-Albuquerque) and Tim Lewis (R- Rio Ranco) are proposing legislation to tighten laws on human traffickers.
Their first priority is to stiften prison sentences. If a person is convicted of human trafficking, they currently serve up to three years of prison time for a third degree felony.
The proposed legislation, however, would make prison sentences a second degree felony if the victim is 16 years or older carrying a sentence of up to nine years in prison. If the victim is 15 years or younger, the trafficker could get up to 18 years in prison for a first degree felony.
"Could you imagine if that was your family member? Could you imagine if that was your daughter, or your son that was in that situation? There's no reason that we can't do better than we're doing, but we need to law to change so it can help us do our work," Mayor Richard Berry said.
Other legislation would make a human trafficker who sexually exploits a victim required to register as a sex offender.
And another proposed change would let prosecutors could go after someone who intends to traffick a human just as strongly as a person who actually has a person in custody.
"If you are a person out there taking advantage of the vulnerable, you need to understand that this loophole is about ready to close and I have a lot of hopes for this particular legislation," the Berry said.
One citizen KOB Eyewitness News 4 spoke with agreed with the new push on legislation.
"People who can't speak out for themselves is something our elected officials and leaders should be really concerned about," voter Siobhan McCoy said.
Another aspect of the proposed legislation would put the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline into public places throughout New Mexico.