ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Sex trafficking is part of Albuquerque’s crime problem that we often don’t hear much about. Local victim advocates are pushing law enforcement to crack down on traffickers and the state to provide more resources to victims.
Christine Barber is part of Street Safe New Mexico, a non-profit organization that helps homeless women and victims of sex trafficking. âIt was tough,â Barber said. âWe went to raise awareness among street women who came from out of town. It was really hard. She thinks back to the last few weeks the State Fair was in town. It attracts hundreds of visitors and, according to Barber, it also hosts at least 200 victims of sex trafficking.
âWe had about three to five women working on specific street corners right in front of the fair and they are very different from the girls here,â Barber said. “You can tell they are trafficked out of town.” She said that in one night, her team met at least 35 women, trying to bond with them by giving them chocolate or feminine hygiene products, hoping the gesture will help them take them away from their homes. aggressors.
Barber said it’s not just during the fair. They meet three to four trafficked women each week and she calls on local and state agencies to do more to address the issue. âSex trafficking in Albuquerque is a big deal,â Barber said.
The Attorney General’s Office, New Mexico State Police and Albuquerque Police said they are working together to investigate sex trafficking cases, prosecute them and assist victims. However, Barber said agencies could help victims of trafficking in other ways, such as putting helplines in women’s toilets and hotels. She also calls on law enforcement to conduct daily sweeps to help get rid of traffickers and give women a place to stay.
âWe’re not providing them with a solution, we’re not saying ‘here’s a house, here’s a place you’re staying,'” said Barber. She hopes something more will be done. “I was just trying to have a piece of paper in their hand saying it’s a phone number you can call, but that’s all we could do and it was heartbreaking,” Barber said. “It was really hard.”
According to Street Safe, they helped 140 women exit sex trafficking last year. APD said its VICE unit is helping with sex trafficking operations. Investigators said they regularly work on individual cases with the help of federal, state and local law enforcement partners. The attorney general’s office also said that when they know there is an increased risk of trafficking such as during a large event, they increase resources.