MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

July 30, 2013

PImps among 60 arrested in state in US child prostitution sweep

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Law enforcement agents arrested 60 people, including 13 pimps and three underage prostitutes, in Oklahoma City and Tulsa as part of a three-day sweep targeting child prostitution and human trafficking, the FBI announced Monday.

The arrests were part of a national raid in 76 cities called Operation Cross Country VII. During the raid, U.S. authorities rescued 105 children who were coerced into prostitution and arrested 150 pimps

The 60 arrests in Oklahoma include 13 pimps as well as men who frequented the prostitutes. Three of the prostitutes were underage, said FBI Supervisory Agent Gary Johnson. Two of the girls are 17 and one is 16.

Johnson said one of the girls was from Oklahoma while the other two had been brought across state lines. One of the girls was arrested during a similar raid last year in the Pacific Northwest.

The girls have been placed in the juvenile court system, Johnson said, but he declined to say what they have been charged with.

Child prostitution is not a growing problem in Oklahoma City, but is a consistent one, Johnson said.

“I don’t think we have a problem any higher than other cities our size by any stretch,” he said.

Johnson said typically most underage girls involved in prostitution are enticed. Most come from dysfunctional families and may have drug addictions.

“Their family background is such that it places them at risk. When you have a young female ... when they are placed at that type of risk there is always someone out there ready to exploit them,” Johnson said. “That’s a very consistent problem. That’s the typical pattern. You have a child at risk.”

Once they are enticed, he said there is pressure to stay and sometimes they are forced or coerced to stay.

“Enticement to get you there ... coercion to keep you there,” added Lt. Doug Kimberlin of the Oklahoma City Police Department’s vice enforcement unit, which assisted the FBI as well as the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control in the raid.

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