Law enforcement officials in Texas gained tough new laws Wednesday to fight human trafficking for commercial purposes and prostitution. The state ranks Number One in the amount of calls it receives to national human trafficking hotline.
“Hopefully, when human traffickers understand their own freedom and profits are on the line, perhaps for the rest of their lives, they will think twice about continuing to engage in these criminal activities,” Gov. Rick Perry said as he signed two new measures that increase prison sentences and fines for human trafficking.
The new laws were developed out of proposals contained in a report by Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force.
The 71-page report notes that Texas, which already had some of the toughest laws in the country against trafficking, is “Number One” in the volume of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
The federally funded hotline receives calls from women and children in crisis situations and anonymous tips on suspected human trafficking operations.
As many as 7,500 calls annually, about 12 percent of the total, originate from Texas, the report says.
One law signed by Perry carries a sentence of up to 99 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 for suspects convicted of having committed two human trafficking offenses within 30 days. A second offense carries a mandatory life-without-parole sentence.
The second law creates a new felony category for forcing women and children into sex slavery. Conviction carries as sentence of up to 99 years or life and a fine up to $10,000 if a child is the victim of either sex trafficking or commercial slavery.
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