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Human trafficking on the rise in New Mexico

Brittany Costello
February 01, 2017 06:55 AM

Worldwide, human trafficking is a $150 billion a year industry. It's a problem in New Mexico, where criminals are preying on some of our most vulnerable people.

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While many believe this is only an international issue, New Mexico is actually one of the top destinations for victims and traffickers.

Human trafficking is akin to modern day slavery. It's a brutal crime that has, in the past, taken the back seat when it comes to investigations and prosecutions. A human trafficking task force was officially established in 2016.

“It's unfathomable to think that we would have slavery in the modern era but I’m here to say that it is going on because it is such a profitable business,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

It's on the rise in New Mexico from 70 cases reported in 2014 to 90 reported in 2015, then to 118 in 2016.

“These individuals have nowhere to turn,” Balderas said. “So when you think about it in terms that the traditional law enforcement and justice weren't protecting these individuals decades ago, years ago. Those numbers are very high. They've been enslaved for many years and exploited.”

For the most part in New Mexico, Balderas said, investigations would conclude with kidnapping or prostitution charges or convictions. It takes special training and education to dig even deeper.

“This kind of crime is in our backyards. It's a very difficult crime to investigate and it's a very difficult crime to prosecute. We need everyone's involvement,” Balderas said.

That way criminals like Wallace Carson, a pimp caught in Albuquerque forcing a woman into prostitution back in 2013, are swiftly taken into custody and their victims are finally freed.

The attorney general hosted a conference Tuesday to try and accomplish some of those goals through training. More than 200 professionals from around the state, law enforcement, educators, even victims came together to try and tackle the problem. This is something they are hoping to do every year.

Credits

Brittany Costello

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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