Human trafficking continues to be a major concern in New Mexico | KOB 4

Human trafficking continues to be a major concern in New Mexico

Colton Shone
Updated: September 16, 2020 06:16 PM
Created: September 16, 2020 02:42 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Human trafficking is an issue affecting states all over the country. Local advocates say the problem in New Mexico is particularly bad.

"We have absolutely seen national rings that come through the state of New Mexico," said Shelley Repp, spokesperson for the New Mexico Dream Center. "We are on a known route and minimally that route is Denver, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City and Compton."

A report from the Human Trafficking Institute shows the latest numbers for New Mexico:

There are 8 trafficking cases, ranking New Mexico 23rd in the nation for active cases. Nationwide, there are 606 cases.

With two convictions, New Mexico is ranked 35th in the nation. Nationwide, there were 339.

Street Safe New Mexico, an Albuquerque-based nonprofit that aims to help victims of human trafficking, said the conviction numbers don't compare to the amount of cases they see.

"On our end at Street Safe, while working on the street, we see, probably, about 20 cases a month," said Christine Barber, spokesperson for Street Safe New Mexico. "So the fact that we only have two that are criminal cases is really sad. I think it speaks to a lot of work that needs to be done."

Advocates say the hard part is getting victims to testify against their traffickers.

Victims' advocates say they tried to get a law passed this year that would have made punishments against traffickers harsher, but it failed. They want to try again during the next legislative session.

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