Richardson: Sex crimes captivate the audience, but why not the Arizona legislature? - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Richardson: Sex crimes captivate the audience, but why not the Arizona legislature?

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at

Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 10:12 am | Updated: 11:42 am, Thu Jul 25, 2013.

I find it interesting the number of Arizona folks who are captivated and fascinated with sex crimes. It’s like they can’t get enough of it. I hear constant talk about the media-created, soap-opera-like atmosphere surrounding the Jodi Arias murder trial. People are fascinated with the sex talk and titillating tales of what Arias and Travis Alexander did before she admittedly murdered him.

No doubt the media loves it. Sex sells and — media-driven voyeurism sells really big in Arizona!

In an opinion piece in last Saturday’s Arizona Republic, Cindy McCain – wife to Sen. John McCain and a highly-successful business executive and known global humanitarian — stated that “Phoenix is a major hub for this activity and is often listed as one of the top spots in the U.S. for child sex trafficking.”

Imagine that, Arizona as a top spot for child sex trafficking.

When you consider Arizona’s continued lack of a strategic statewide plan and effective state agency to take on the organized crime elements that sell kids for sex, Arizona is a great spot trafficking in children.

I wrote in my March 5 Tribune column (“Recent Valley freeway snarls only part of the issue with DPS”) that “Without a centralized and coordinated effort like was once the case with DPS taking the lead in organized crime investigations, the public suffers and the criminal’s profit. No wonder organized crime loves Arizona.”

While the public’s anti-crime focus is kept on the border and billions and billions of dollars are spent to intercept illegal aliens and drugs — to questionable success — organized criminal activities continue to flourish on our city streets. Human trafficking whether it is for sweatshops or the sex trade has always been a major profit center for organized crime.

In Arizona, it’s no secret among law enforcement officials that the streets are controlled by gangs with ties to the Mexican mafia prison gang and Mexico based organized crime groups.

For whatever reasons, Arizona’s policy and lawmakers continue to ignore the threat these groups present to Arizona’s sustainability and quality of life. The legislature’s neglect of statewide law enforcement efforts is legendary. When you look at its recent performance, it’s easy to see how Arizona went from being one of the best in attacking organized crime to being a state that’s a major destination and transshipment hub in organized crime’s North American supply chain.

McCain pointed out in her op-ed piece the legislature’s latest gift to crime and criminals was House Judiciary Chairman Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, refusing to schedule a hearing for a bill to help law enforcement target the growing problem of child prostitution. House Bill 2569 would have created “higher penalties for pimps and traffickers than for johns when the victim is 15, 16 or 17.

“This bill is relatively simple and straightforward, and just the start of legislation needed to address the larger problem of human trafficking in Arizona,” she added.

Kiddie pimps would be looking at up to 37 years in prison had this bill moved forward and become law.

McCain pointed out “Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market ‘demand’ for young victims. Studies show pimps prey on victims as young as 12.”

Farnsworth’s refusal to hold a hearing killed anti-organized crime legislation that would help police and prosecutors attack Arizona’s flesh mongers.

But what else would you expect from our legislature’s leadership — a group that has made ignoring Arizona’s crime problems its usual way of doing business?

McCain is known for her courage. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty doing what’s right. It’s too bad our legislature doesn’t have the same commitment and courage to protect Arizona’s children and communities from organized crime, and sexual predators.

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