Gov. Rick Perry is proposing new laws to stiffen penalties for human trafficking in the state.
Texas enacted a human trafficking law in 2003, and a statewide human trafficking task force attached to the Texas Attorney General's Office activated in January.
During an appearance Thursday in Houston, Perry says human trafficking preys on hopes and dreams of victims promised better lives for themselves and families. Instead, he says what awaits victims is a life of confinement, prostitution, abuse and early death.
The governor wants the Legislature, when it convenes in January, to make "the worst of these traffickers" subject to first-degree felony charges that could carry penalties of up to 99 years or life in prison.
Federal statistics show 25 percent of all human trafficking victims, as of 2006, were in Texas.