Human trafficking is modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. It has become a global, lucrative industry where children, teenagers, and young adults are kidnapped, smuggled, or lured into organized rings that often involve drugs and weapons. The latest reports indicate that it is the second most profitable, illegal industry in the world, earning more than $32 billion a year. According to government agencies, there are approximately 27 million people around the world who serve as human slaves – more than any time in history.
Oklahoma’s first ever federal human trafficking case began in March 2012. Police busted a sex trafficking ring in Tulsa selling underage girls and young women for sex. It was called "Operation Poker Chip" because that's how the men paid for sex. It was also to keep the cash away from the women trapped in this life as a prostitute. Customers were given poker chips in exchange for cash. The women were required to keep the chips until the end of the day to prove they had complied. Law enforcement from a broad spectrum of agencies worked on the case that spanned several states. Federal and state investigators identified a married couple as leaders of the sex trafficking organization that was operating in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee. They also identified another person who was a leader within the organization that operated sex trafficking ventures in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. The FBI says this Tulsa case is just one of 400 they're working on nationwide.
According to the Polaris Project research, community awareness and training efforts help increase victim identification and assistance. Individuals encountered victims and situations of human trafficking in a variety of unique ways including: victims reaching out to community members for assistance; victims approaching individuals to solicit commercial sex (e.g. at truck stops, massage parlors, street based prostitution, online ads or chat rooms) or providing labor or services (e.g. traveling sales crews, restaurants, nail salons); advertisements for commercial sex (e.g. receipt of a business card with covert information in Spanish for a residential brothel, postings through online social networking sites or chat rooms); observation of a suspicious establishment or activity (e.g. massage parlors open late at night, a domestic worker in the neighborhood who never appears to leave the house); and word of mouth passed throughout the community.
This is a rare opportunity and LOK is
privileged to have DaySpring Villa open their facility to our membership. They were also the first certified shelter
in Oklahoma to provide services to adult human trafficking victims.
The most effective statewide anti-trafficking strategies are those that recognize the importance of an informed citizenry. Members and guests will have an opportunity to tour the DaySpring facility, learn the facts and red flags of human trafficking, hear testimonials, and take away knowing what resources are available locally and nationally.
Read the Journal Record's article on Human Trafficking here.