ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city of Albuquerque and New Mexico Attorney General’s Office are launching a partnership to combat “organized retail crime.” Calling it a “profitable industry” and a major revenue source behind drug crimes, human trafficking and theft, city and state officials outlined the problem during a news conference Tuesday.

Flanked by Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Harold Medina, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said his office will be teaming up with Albuquerque Police and local retailers to identify and prosecute the “worst of the worst” retail criminals. Balderas also said the partnership would focus on improving communication with “front line officers” and large corporations to “build cases.”

“We’ve seen a level of increase of violence to families and consumers in New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque,” Balderas said. “This is not about shoplifting, this not about teenage delinquencies, this is about a very profitable industry that’s funneling and fueling other criminal activity like human trafficking and gang activity.”

Balderas also called on state lawmakers to “stop killing key important legislation” that has been introduced for “many years. The Attorney General mentioned the “Organized Criminal Retail Act,” a bill he says would toughen penalties surrounding the issue.