S. Robinson Avenue in South Oklahoma City has historically been the most public example of prostitution and human sex trafficking in the state of Oklahoma. Most of the women on Robinson are under the control or influence of dangerous predator pimps. Often girls are 'turned out' as young as 11-15 years old. Pimps openly collect the cash their women tirelessly to make for them. And when they fail to earn enough, the consequences are horrific.
Often mothers are prostituted side-by-side with their teenage daughters. A mother waits in her car as she prostitutes her two daughters.
The police are aware of the problem, but without witnessing an actual crime they are often helpless to do much more than their presence known.
South Robinson's latest victim is a young teenage mother-to-be.
But it doesn't have to be this way. You can make a difference by getting involved in the solution.
Oklahoma City police and the FBI have teamed up to investigate a case of underage prostitution. On a Friday, a 15-year old girl was picked up for the crime and officials fear that there could be more young girls involved.
News Reporter Sarah Stewart says that FBI is looking for any involvement of any federal crimes such as human trafficking and child civil rights’ issues across the state lines.
South Robinson in Oklahoma City has long been known for the girls that walk that street, but now the concern is being raised about the age of those prostitutes.
Brian Bates says that if a youth is going to be a prostitute, then at some point they are going to end up on Robinson. He has also been driving the streets for fifteen years, taking video of the illegal activity and turning it over to the police.
On Friday morning, Oklahoma City’s by squad showed him a picture of 15-year old girl, they wanted him to help them find. Just a couple hours later, he found her.
She gets picked up by a potential John and he headed over to a parking lot.
Bates kept an eye on the vehicle in the parking lot until police arrived and stopped the driver.
Bates adds that the police really stepped it up to get here before this young lady could be victimized again.
They literally got here just second before the lewd act probably would have happened.
Clay Simmonds from FBI says that we’re in the midst of investigation trying to see whether other individuals or other children are out there engaged in this activity.
Bates was happy to have helped to remove one young girl from Oklahoma City’s streets but says the problem is much bigger.
Bates says that the problem is not only those young daughters are on sale on Robinson but that men are actually lining up to buy them, unfortunately.
A man accused of human trafficking is back behind bars. Police arrested him and accused him for prostituting a 17-year old runaway girl out of Tulsa, and it turns out that he’s been arrested before for the very same thing.
Adriana Iwanski says 22-year old Philip Gadson was in the Oklahoma country jail on a fifty thousand dollar bond. He is a known pimp who has been arrested several times, including just ten days ago on a prostitution-related complaint. However, he keeps getting out and goes right back to what he knows, the reported trafficking of women and children.
Oklahoma City arrested Philip Gadson and Silvia Wilson outside a gas station of Northwest 120 second and McArthur. After officers found them with a 17-year old runaway out of Tulsa, who was listed on the national Crime Database as a sex trafficking victim. He was also one of the many people arrested back in 2012 and 2013 during an operation across the country, a nationwide sting set up by the FBI and local law enforcement aimed at getting known pimps, prostitutes, and human traffickers behind bars and trying to rescue underage girls.
Lori Basey from “No Boundaries International” says that it is just so frustrating that people are just paid upon, and usually these are people who are in dire situations, those with lower self-esteem or those who just make one bad choice.
Sonya Martinez from Beautiful Dream Society says that when these young women are brought up the street and when they come to them, there is such a high level of fear.
Sonya Martinez is the director of beautiful dreams society, an organization that has set up a shelter for victims of human trafficking right here in the Oklahoma City.She adds that they want to make some changes and in some cases, they don’t know how and they don’t feel safe.
Lori Basey wants everyone to remind them that they are beautiful and they are made for something more than that and we just take them by the hand and help them make better choices and find a way out if that’s what they are looking for.
Cases like this are bringing a new tension to a growing problem of human trafficking in our state. It is one of the many reasons why an agency designed to stop drug abuse is also dedicating agents to end modern slavery.
Now there’s a new weapon in the arsenal, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Human Trafficking Unit (OBN). OBN director Darrell Weaver understands the connection between the war on drugs and war on human trafficking.
He says that the same people-based crimes that happened with drug enforcement also happen with some of the human trafficking components. They have the undercover capacity, surveillance techniques, the informants, confidential sources to infiltrate some of these groups.
The 7-member OBN unit has spent the past six months training with the best law enforcement in Oklahoma and around the country.
One of the undercover agents whose identity cannot be disclosed, says that they are working to make sure that they have the training background to identify and deal with these cases.
He adds that the crime happens typically in broad daylight, it occurs right under your noses. Anytime there’s money involved in it and there’s a demand, there’s going to be somebody stepping up for the supply.
This is a problem that will take all of us to conquer.
Here’s how you can get involved. If you know someone who is a victim or you notice any suspicious activity you can call their toll-free hotline at 855-617-2288 FREE.