The new law signed by Governor Rick Perry re-classifies human trafficking as felony that could result in life in prison if the
person is convicted. Houston is considered a hub for human trafficking because of its relative proximity to Mexico and its
access to a large port and several major airports. Maria Trujillo is the executive director of Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition.
"We're hoping that with this kind of new legislation, where it's a first degree felony punishment, that you could be punished
from 5-99 years to life with a fine of up to $10,000, that's really going to hopefully wake-up these traffickers that this is
no longer a low-risk crime and that there are real penalties and there are going to be people out there in our state that are
going to go after them."
The Department of Justice calls the I-10 corridor that goes through Houston a "super highway" for human trafficking. Trujillo
says it may take a while to see a reduction in the crime that affects thousands of people a year.
"In the short term, like next year, I don't see there being a drop-off, but as we as a state can actually pursue these cases and prosecute these cases and judges actually lay down these fines and these judgments, I think we will eventually start seeing traffickers taking a second thought and thinking maybe this is not something we should get in to. This is becoming too difficult of a crime to get involved in."
The new law takes effect September 1st.
Story written by Jack Williams and voiced by Laurie Johnson.