Sequoyah County is located in eastern Oklahoma, near Fort Smith, Arkansas.Its population is roughly 42,000. The county seat is Sallisaw, and other noteworthy cities include Roland (a city of roughly 3,700 residents). Prostitution activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, the owner and another employee of a business were arrested as authorities investigated reports of illegal sexual activity and human trafficking following a sex sting at the massage parlor. The Sequoyah County undersheriff said the department sent an undercover officer into the business to determine if illegal sex acts were happening after receiving several reports; an employee inside had tried to perform a sexual act on him. The investigators obtained probable cause for us to secure the business and obtain a search warrant. There could be more charges; investigators suspected this may be a case of human trafficking.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. In their efforts to reduce prostitution locally, the Roland Police Department has conducted at least one reverse sting operation, which resulted in the arrest of four johns. The January 2013 operation was staged at a local motel, and also targeted and arrested two women offering acts of prostitution. The names and ages of all of the arrestees were publicized in press.
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.
- Roland Police Department
- Sebastian and Crawford Counties Drug Task Force
Reverse Stings, Shaming, Community Service:
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 7 Arrests in Roland,” CBS/KFSM-TV 5, January 31 2013.
- “Seven Arrested in Roland Prostitution Sting,” Fort Smith Times Record, January 31 2013.
Background on Local Prostitution:
- https://www.4029tv.com/china-doll-massage-reopens-after-being-raided-by-police/10343574 (2017)
- http://www.insidefortsmith.com/september-trial-date-set-for-roland-massage-parlor-owner/ (2017)