Tulsa County, OK

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Tulsa County is located in northeastern Oklahoma, and has a population of roughly 673,000 residents, making it the second most populous county in Oklahoma. Its county seat and largest city is Tulsa, OK, the second-largest city in the state. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well documented problems in this county, and the Northeast region of the state, and have generated numerous complaints to law enforcement that have instigated police responses. For example, in November 2013, a Tulsa man was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for the sex trafficking of children. Prosecutors said the offender used social media to lure underage girls into abuse in the sex trade. He was convicted of conspiring to recruit, entice, transport, provide, and obtain girls under the age of 18 knowing and in reckless disregard of the fact that the girls would be caused to engage in commercial sex acts. One of the victims was just 14 years old. In January 2013, a man was charged by a federal grand jury with attempted sex-trafficking and using the telephone and internet to facilitate prostitution. The man was arrested by Tulsa police after a 15-year-old girl met with an undercover officer during a prostitution sting at a local motel. The officers arranged the meeting through Backpage.com.

Prostitution-related violence is also well documents in Tulsa County. For example, in 2013, sentences were announced in a federal sex trafficking case in which victims were smuggled into the United States and throughout at least 10 states (including Oklahoma, and the Tulsa area). Victims were beaten, threatened with firearms, and sex trafficked. One victim was subjected to harsh verbal and physical abuse, and was injected with drugs. In October 2015, Tulsa Police identified a homicide victim, and the investigation took police ” into the world of methamphetamine and prostitution.” A house on W. Independence was being used for illegal drug sales and prostitution that appeared to include sex trafficking. Police investigated an allegation that a woman was being held in the residence and sex trafficked. In 2016, a woman was arrested for prostitution, and a record check found she was wanted for a previous homicide allegation. In 2017, a prostituted woman in Broken Arrow was arrested on felony prostitution charges for “lewdness and knowingly spreading an infectious diseases (HIV). In a more recent case in July 2022, an undercover police officer was robbed at gunpoint while conducting a prostitution sting. Both assailants were arrested.

Child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) associated with prostitution have also been found in Tulsa County. For example, in 2017, a woman was was arrested in a Tulsa Police undercover sting, and jailed on two felony complaints: possession of child pornography and procurement of a minor for prostitution. The arresting officer said he was at a hotel near 31st and Memorial taking part in a child sex abuse material (child pornography) investigation. He met a woman who agreed that she and a minor female would engage in prostitution. The woman showed the officer a video clip of a “child performing a sex act with an adult,” which led to her arrest. Illicit drugs are also commonly involved in commercial sex. For example, during a prostitution sting in 2017, a sex buyer approached an undercover police women and offered her drugs as payment for sex. In other cases, those trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation also traffic drugs, and use addiction to gain compliance of the victims.

In 2021, a Broken Arrow man was arrested for allegedly serving as an administrator for a transnational child exploitation chat group has led to five additional arrests and the rescue of multiple child victims in the United States and Europe. Based on an interview with the offender, agents from the FBI reported that the offender,

“allegedly confirmed that he held an administrative role in multiple groups, to include one specifically designed for sharing of explicit images and videos of children the members had physical access to. He allegedly stated that he had traded images of child sexual abuse that would be considered child pornography, to include the sexually explicit “live” image he sent of a child to the online chat group on July 24, 2021. On July 26, 2021, the FBI linked the administrator account to [the offender] and his Broken Arrow address and executed a search warrant at the residence that same day.”

The FBI and task force partners arrested the Broken Arrow man in addition to five other individuals and rescued child victims in Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, and Norway. He was charged in a federal indictment with child exploitation enterprise; sexual exploitation of a child by a parent; receipt and distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography in Indian Country.

In effort to address these problems are those that target consumer-level demand. For example, in September 2013, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics’ (OBN) Human Trafficking Unit coordinated an operation focusing on organized sex trafficking in Tulsa County, Rogers County, Ottawa County, and Delaware County. A spokesman for OBN said the agency initiated the investigation as the result of information about individuals, including minors, lured into sex trafficking. Undercover agents conducted sex trafficking sting operations at various hotels in the four counties that produced a total of 42 arrests. During “Operation Trojan Horse,” undercover officers posed as prostituted persons and sex buyers on websites known for this activity. Undercover female officers posted ads on backpage.com and, as men arrived at the hotel, they were taken into custody for soliciting prostitution. A total of 20 men were arrested for attempting to purchase sex. The breakdown of those arrests across the four counties was not disclosed, nor were the specific towns in which the arrests were made or the identities of the arrested persons. In addition to the 20 sex buyers, 13 prostituted persons and seven sex traffickers/pimps were arrested. Three of the prostituted women were identified as victims of sex trafficking and were transported to a shelter facility, one of these victims was 15 years old. Agencies involved in the investigation include the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, Tulsa Police, Rogers County Sheriff’s Office, Miami Police, Grove Police, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, Quapaw Tribal Marshals, Eastern Shawnee Tribal Police, Wyandotte Nation Tribal Police, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in Kansas and Newton County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri. OBN created a human trafficking unit in 2012 and at the time planned to do many more of these sting operations in the future.

In 2021, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department reported a significant rise in the amount of “child predator” cases in the county. According to the TCSD lead detective for these cases, Jason Weis, stated that the significant increase in child sexual exploitation cases in the county is attributed to COVID and an increase in the number of adults staying at home. In effort to reduce the rise of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation cases in the county, the TCSD frequently conducts web-based reverse sting operations targeting child predators. The department created decoy profiles on multiple social media platforms, posing as young girls to communicate with suspected child predators. In 2021, Weis reported that the department received anywhere from one to 15 friend requests per day. This was a significant increase from 2020, when the department was reportedly only receiving one to two friend requests per day.

In addition to Tulsa, other cities within Tulsa County have implemented demand reduction efforts. For example, in Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa, the Broken Arrow Police Department has been known to conduct web-based reverse sting operations since 2010, if not earlier. For example, in March 2010, the BAPD conducted a web-based reverse sting operation at a local hotel that resulted in the arrests of four male sex buyers. According to the Broken Arrow Ledger,

“…a total of 10 officers were utilized in various capacities, ranging from posing online as prostitutes or those soliciting sex, to acting as such in person at the hotel. Other officers made the actual arrests and transported suspects to booking where the suspects were charged.”

Following their arrests, the identities, ages and addresses of arrested sex buyers were released to the public.

Loss of Employment, Sex Buyer Arrests 

Loss of employment is also a consequence of buying sex in the city. The Tulsa Police Department has also experienced issues concerning TPD officers being arrested for soliciting prostitution either during reverse sting operations and/or as the result of complaints to the department. For example, in 1988, a former TPD officer was arrested for child sex trafficking and related charges. According to reports, the former officer was arrested as the result of a two-month prostitution investigation by the TPD after officers had discovered the man had been sex trafficking a 13-year-old runaway female. Police affidavits allege [the offender], “paid the teenager $20 to have sexual intercourse with him at his Tulsa home, and also offered a male informant $100 if he would procure a 12-year-old girl for him.” Police informants stated that the former officer was arrested by undercover officers after he attempted “trade or buy child pornography.” The offender was transported to the Tulsa City-County Jail in lieu of $300,000 bail on felony counts of first-degree rape, lewd molestation, and receiving a child for the purpose of prostitution. Lt. Lynn Jones, area commander, reported that the investigation resulted in 111 misdemeanor and felony arrest warrants being served for prostitution, burglary, automobile theft and drugs and made 30 additional arrests for prostitution related crimes – soliciting, pandering, and providing a house of prostitution. According to reports, the offender had been a Tulsa policeman for seven years, “when he was fired in 1981 after being accused of demanding sexual favors from a woman and 14-year-old girl in separate incidents while on duty.” In 1982, the former officer was also implicated in a murder case.

In 2013, the a TPD officer was for soliciting prostitution after the TPD received a complaint alleging the officer in question had been soliciting sex from women. Internal Affairs set up a sting operation and say they caught the officer offering money to an undercover officer in exchange for sex. The department issued the following statement,

“[An officer] with the Tulsa Police Department was arrested after a lengthy internal investigation. The Tulsa Police Department received information regarding alleged criminal activity involving [the officer in question] and in return launched an investigation which included the Tulsa Police Departments Special Investigations Division and agents with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.”

The officer in question was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on complaints of engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. Records show his bond is $11,500. As a result of his arrest, he was placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.

In July 2021, a prostituted woman reported to police that an officer was soliciting prostitution from other prostituted women. Police set up an undercover operation, and the officer was arrested, fired, and transported to jail.

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.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming, Community Service:

Employment Loss, Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Public Education, Neighborhood Action:

Background on Local Prostitution:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Local Prostitution-Related Violence, CSAM, Drugs, Weapons Offenses:

State Oklahoma
Type County
Population 672858
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