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Klobuchar Mexico trip aimed at boosting fight against drug, sex trafficking

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Amy Klobuchar is spending part of the U.S. Senate's spring break in Mexico. But it's strictly business – big business.

Klobuchar is part of a three-member delegation headed south to urge Mexican authorities to do more to rein in heroin and sex trafficking that is spilling into U.S. hubs including the Twin Cities, the Star Tribune reports.

The newspaper says American law enforcement officials report sophisticated criminal organizations are moving from Mexico into U.S. cities such as Minneapolis and Chicago selling cheaper, purer grades of heroin. The Star Tribune says in two years heroin deaths in the Twin Cities have tripled, reaching 63 last year.

Klobuchar is going to Mexico with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Cindy McCain, who co-chairs the Arizona governor's task force on human trafficking. In announcing their trip the three said they'll be working with Mexican law enforcement on developing a coordinated response to the trafficking of both drugs and sex.

As MinnPost reports, the three plan to meet with the Mexican National Security Commission and with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Klobuchar has authored the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act, which she says is modeled after safe harbor laws in Minnesota providing support to underage victims of the sex trade. Heitkamp and Klobuchar have experience prosecuting sex and drug trafficking cases as North Dakota's attorney general and as Hennepin County attorney, respectively.

As for the flow of Mexican heroin into Minnesota, the Star Tribune took a closer look at the issue in a feature story last month. The newspaper reports Interstate 35 (which runs from Brownsville, Texas, to Duluth) is a pipeline for the drug. Another major route runs through Chicago where street gangs, including the Latin Kings, control much of the distribution.

Minnesota's fight to reduce heroin deaths also includes a push to allow emergency personnel to carry an antidote that supporters say can save lives by reducing the effects of an overdose. The state Senate passed that bill unanimously last week.

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