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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Human trafficking crackdown sought

Human trafficking crackdown sought
With most of Senate listed as sponsors, passage of bill is likely.

A bill designed to crack down on human trafficking that feeds the illicit sex and labor trade in Texas was given an initial approval Tuesday by a Senate committee.

In supporting the tougher punishment, the bill's author, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, told the story of a 16-year-old Oregon boy who was brought to Texas and forced into prostitution by criminals who threatened to kill his 14-year-old sister if he refused.

"This bill is important to stop this ... to stop the trafficking of human beings in our state," she said, noting that the measure follows the recommendations of a special task force that studied the issue.

Under Senate Bill 24, separate prosecutions are created for sex trafficking and labor trafficking — a move that Van de Putte said will give prosecutors a better tool to charge violators.

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