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New Strip Club Rules Aim To Stop Trafficking

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque city councilors late Monday adopted a host of new regulations for strip clubs aimed at discouraging human trafficking, prostitution and other crimes.

The ordinance sets out record-keeping requirements on the identity of performers and calls for signs to be posted telling employees how to report human trafficking.

It also prohibits “adult cabaret entertainment” in private areas of the club that aren’t open and visible to others.

Councilors voted 7-2 in favor of the bill after a lengthy — and sometimes heated — discussion. Dan Lewis, Isaac Benton and Debbie O’Malley co-sponsored the ordinance. Joining them in favor were Ken Sanchez, Brad Winter, Michael Cook and Don Harris.

Lewis said the bill was needed “to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society.” Many of the rules have already been enacted in other cities, he said.

“Albuquerque really heavily regulates pawn shops, but not its strip clubs,” Lewis said.

Voting “no” were Trudy Jones and Rey Garduño.

Garduño repeatedly questioned whether anyone had actually been arrested for human trafficking in an Albuquerque strip club.

Jones asked why other businesses that might involving the trafficking of minors weren’t covered by the bill. She mentioned hotel maids and landscaping workers as occupations that might involve people working against their will.

“I have a concern that we’re targeting one particular type of business,” Jones said.

An earlier version of the proposal had called for a “no-touching” rule during lap dances, but the bill approved Monday didn’t tackle that topic one way or another.

In other action, the City Council:

n Postponed for two weeks a decision on whether to call for the mayor to roll back admission-fee increases at the BioPark. The administration increased the fees in September, a move supporters said was necessary to pay for maintenance costs.

n Adopted an ordinance aimed at cracking down on businesses that sell “spice,” “bath salts” and other synthetic substances that are sometimes abused by people hoping to get high. The measure was co-sponsored by O’Malley and Harris.

The city could seize a business’s spice and bath salt inventory if a laboratory test shows the products are synthetic drugs targeted under the legislation. Repeat violations could result in a shutdown of the business.

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