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New legislation would strengthen human trafficking laws

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Legislators will introduce a bill this week to strengthen New Mexico’s human trafficking laws.

Gov. Susana Martinez and Mayor Richard Berry announced the legislation, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, and Tim Lewis, R-Rio Rancho, at a news conference Sunday.

The legislation would:

  •   Require human traffickers convicted of sexual exploitation to register on the existing sex offender registry. They will also be required to provide a DNA sample to law enforcement.
  • Adjust a human trafficking conviction from a third degree felony to a second degree felony if the victim is over age 16; and change it to a first degree penalty if the victim is 15 years old or younger.
  • Expand the definition of a human trafficker to include intent.

Youngblood said the legislation was crafted in conjunction with the Albuquerque Police Department and the Mayor’s Taskforce on Human Trafficking.
“It’s a common misperception that crimes of this nature occur overseas, but not right here in New Mexico,” Martinez said in a news release.
Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation.
Lewis has already introduced legislation that would require posting the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at public places such as highway rest areas, transportation facilities, and bars.

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