AUSTIN Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has appointed state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa to a joint interim committee charged with monitoring the implementation of new human trafficking legislation.

Under Hinojosa's leadership, human rights advocates, Texas prosecutors and law enforcement came to an agreement on how to best address this issue during the last regular session.

The result was an amendment that Hinojosa successfully added to House Bill 260. The amendment makes it easier for prosecutors to convict human smugglers and traffickers in Texas.

Hinojosa, an expert on criminal justice issues as well as an attorney in private practice, brings considerable experience to this committee. During his tenure in the Texas House of Representatives, Hinojosa served as chairman of the Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence in the 1990's. Hinojosa currently serves on the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice.

"For years stories about human trafficking and smuggling have popped up in news outlets across Texas. It is not just a border or political issue. It is an issue that affects every county of the state and is indifferent to one's political views," Hinojosa said.

The Joint Interim Committee on Human Trafficking is charged with studying the services available to victims of human trafficking under current law, as well as to develop best practices for youth who fall victim to this crime.

"The fact that both the House and Senate have come together under this Joint Interim Committee shows that the Legislature is committed to further exploring this issue. The societal and economic costs associated with human trafficking are enormous. The Legislature has taken good first steps in cracking down on this criminal activity," Hinojosa concluded.