A proposal advocated by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to increase penalties for human trafficking is heading to the Senate for consideration.
The measure would make it a first-degree felony for human trafficking if the victim was under the age of 16. Convictions could carry a basic sentence of 18 years in prison. That doubles the penalty because the crime is currently a lesser felony.
The proposal would triple the basic penalty — to nine years in prison — for human trafficking if the victim was 16 years or older.
The House unanimously approved the legislation on Friday and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
The governor said in a statement it's a "common misperception that crimes of this nature occur overseas, but not right here in New Mexico."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.