Lawton, OK

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Lawton is a city of about 100,000 located in southwestern Oklahoma, along Interstate 44.  The local commercial sex market has produced a number of documented problems, including child sex trafficking and prostitution-related homicides, and has generated ongoing community complaints to police.

Among their efforts to reduce this illegal activity, local law enforcement have incorporated the use of tactics that are intended to combat demand for commercial sex. Lawton Police Department officers have conducted reverse stings at street level since at least 1998, and have launched web-based investigations targeting johns since at least 2014.

In January 2014, for example, a web-based reversal staged at a local hotel resulted in the arrests of 13 sex buyers. The operation was one part of a multi-part, multi-agency effort to combat prostitution and sex trafficking.  The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the Lawton Police Department and Homeland Security collaborated to conduct  “Operation Pretty Woman Three,” which was the largest of three operations launched in late 2013 and early 2014 targeting commercial sex arranged online.  The operation identified two victims of human trafficking, and produced 25 arrests– including 13 johns.  The investigations were staged at local hotels where agents acted as both clients and escorts.  In March, 2018, eleven people arrested and charged with prostitution or charges related to the crime after a sting operation by the Lawton Police Department Special Operations Unit and the Human Trafficking Unit of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.  All of the arrests happened in the afternoon at a hotel on Second Street in Lawton. Authorities arrested 6 men who agreed to pay an undercover officer for sex.  The investigation used websites that are popular for prostitution ads.

In June 2013, an operation was conducted by agents from the Department of Homeland Security and members of the Lawton Police Department, and involved investigations and raids of eight massage parlors in Lawton over a two-day period.  Five men believed to be clients were arrested in the process, including two soldiers from nearby Fort Sill. According to reports, the raid followed an investigation of commercial sex activity on Backpage.com.

Individuals arrested for prostitution-related offenses in Lawton have at times had their identities disclosed in press. In February 1999, the Lawton Constitution reported that city officials were considering producing a “John TV” program wherein arrested sex buyers names and other identifying information would air on local access television. It is unclear if such a program was ever implemented.

Oklahoma laws prohibiting prostitution under 21 O.S. 1029 allow for penalties including a jail term of 30 days to one year, and a fine of up to $2,500 on the first offense. The fines increase with subsequent convictions, and the court may also mandate 40 to 80 hours of community service.

 

Key Partners

  • Lawton Police Department
  • Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics
  • Department of Homeland Security

Key Sources

Brothel Raids with John Arrests:

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

  • “Briefs; LPD Makes Prostitution Arrests,” Lawton Constitution, August 10 1998.
  • “Prostitute Complains about LPD Sting Tactic,” Lawton Constitution, October 22 2001.
  • “Six Snared in Zone 1 LPD Sting,” Lawton Constitution, September 19 2002.
  • “Officer Goes Undercover as Prostitute,” Lawton Constitution, September 8 2007.
  • “City Police Arrest 7 for Prostitution,” Lawton Constitution, August 30 2008.

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Proposed Shaming via “John TV”:

  • “Council to Consider Local ‘John TV’ Program,” Lawton Constitution, February 23 1999.

Community Service:

Sex Trafficking in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Prostitution: City Nightclubs along the ‘Strip’ Marketplace for Prostitutes,” Lawton Constitution, November 14 1986.
  • “Prostitution; Police Say Prostitution on the Decline in Lawton,” Lawton Constitution, November 14 1986.
  • “Prostitution: Sting Results in Arrest of Two Prostitutes who Advertised Home Massage Services,” Lawton Constitution, December 7 1987.
  • “Prostitution: Northwest Lawton Woman Arrested for Soliciting over a Citizens Band Radio,” Lawton Constitution, August 30 1988.
  • “City Turning up Lights on Crime in 1st Street Area,” Lawton Constitution, February 11 1993.
  • “Lawton Pair Gets Probation,” Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman, May 22 1993.
  • “Sexually-Oriented Businesses to Keep Distances under New Rules,” Lawton Constitution, December 15 1994.
  • “Sill Officials Investigate Prostitution,” Lawton Constitution, February 11 1999.
  • “Lawton ‘Madam’ Arrested,” Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman, August 11 1999.
  • “Four Arrests Made in Sex for Cash Cases,” Lawton Constitution, June 12 2001.
  • “LPD Makes Vice Arrests,” Lawton Constitution, June 18 2002.
  • “Crackdown; Police Put Focus on Neighborhood Brought to Ruin by Drugs, Prostitutes,” Lawton Constitution, August 30 2002.
  • “Council Considers Options for Dealing with Nuisance Reports,” Lawton Constitution, September 11 2002.
  • “LPD Makes Prostitution Arrests,” Lawton Constitution, June 22 2004.
  • “Lawton Police Conduct Prostitution Sting,” Lawton Constitution, April 23 2006.
  • “Lawton Police Arrest Cache Woman in Craigslist Bust,” Lawton Constitution, April 22 2010.
  • “Local Massage Parlor Cited in Sting,” Lawton Constitution, May 8 2010.
  • “Quarrel Proves to Be Prostitution,” Lawton Constitution, December 21 2010.
  • “Police: Woman who Advertised on Craigslist Arrested for Prostitution,” Lawton Constitution, December 21 2011.
  • “Police Make Prostitution Arrests,” Lawton Constitution, March 14 2013.

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Oklahoma
Type City
Population 98376
Location
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