Officials: New Mexico’s weak child porn law lures offenders

SANTA FE (AP) – A weak child pornography law in New Mexico is attracting offenders to the state, officials said.

A 2014 New Mexico Supreme Court ruling limits child porn possession charges to a single count regardless of the number of images involved, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Special Agent in Charge Anthony Maez, who heads the state attorney general’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, said law enforcement has noticed New Mexico’s lax rules being discussed online, and that traffickers in child pornography are moving to the state as a result.

“These individuals know New Mexico is more lenient than other states,” he said. “So the consequences don’t outweigh the crime.”

Attorney General Hector Balderas plans to try getting previously failed legislation approved in 2016 to allow a charge to be filed for each image depicting child pornography, as some states do.

The Internet has given people possessing child pornography a way to spread the images quickly. But Maez says authorities have uncovered sex abuse online that may otherwise have stayed hidden.

“It does help us identify these individuals,” he said.

Maez said the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, where most of the task force’s tips come from, has identified over 9,600 victims of child pornography around the world.

An estimated 5 million children have been affected.

“It is overwhelming,” Maez said. “We look at the priority cases first.”

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