Ottawa County has a population of about 32,000 and and is situated in the “Four States” area of northwest Oklahoma. Prostitution and sex trafficking are known to have occurred in the county, and among the efforts to ameliorate the many resulting problems was one large-scale operation that targeted sex buyers as well as pimps and prostituted women, and identified and rescued sex trafficking victims.
In September 2013, a four-day undercover operation designed to combat sex trafficking and prostitution was conducted in a four-county area encompassing the intersection of four states: southeast Kansas, northwest Oklahoma, northeast Arkansas, and southwest Missouri. “Operation Trojan Horse” was led by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBNDDC), and involved a collaboration of many other agencies, including the sheriff’s departments of Ottawa County in Oklahoma, Rogers County in Arkansas, Cherokee County in Kansas and Newton County in Missouri. Also participating in the sting/reverse sting were the police department of Miami, Grove and Tulsa; the Quapaw tribal marshals, Eastern Shawnee and Wyandotte tribal police, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Homeland Security Investigations (Department of Homeland Security).
The OBNDDC in a news release said that efforts were made during the four-day operation to target people engaged in prostitution in various cities and to identify any minors and adults forced into prostitution as a result of human trafficking. Of the people arrested in all four counties, 20 were accused of soliciting prostitution ( being “a john”). Eleven others were arrested on related misdemeanor offenses in Ottawa County, and were charged with either engaging in or soliciting prostitution. Also discovered in the investigation and operation was evidence of sex trafficking of four females, including a 15 year old girl. Eight people were charged with pimping or “aiding and abetting” prostitution.
Oklahoma law prohibits people from engaging in prostitution under 21 O.S. 1029, which addresses both prostitution and solicitation of prostitution in the same manner under the same statute. Both prostitution and solicitation are misdemeanors. The penalties for prostitution and solicitation include 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.
- Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement
- Divisions Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
- Homeland Security Investigations
- Tulsa Police Department
- Rogers County Sheriff’s Office (Arkansas)
- Miami Police Department
- Grove Police Department
- Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office (Oklahoma)
- Delaware County District Attorney’s Office
- Quapaw Tribal Marshal’s
- Eastern Shawnee Tribal Police
- Wyandotte Nation Tribal Police
- Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office (Kansas)
- Newton County Sheriff’s Office (Missouri)
Reverse sting, shaming:
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Region:
- https://www.thenews-messenger.com/news/2018/11/11/news-brief-human trafficking to be part of program (2018)