The Edmond Sun
A new state law aided a state agency involved in a recent human trafficking case that netted arrests at an Edmond hotel, an official said.
Oklahoma City Police Master Sgt. Gary Knight said several agencies were involved in an investigation that resulted in the arrest of a 21-year-old male and a 17-year-old male Thursday evening at a hotel in the 1300 block of South Broadway. The victim was age 16, Knight said.
The Edmond Police Department, the Oklahoma City Police Department, the FBI, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and the Department of Homeland Security worked the case, Knight said.
Edmond Police spokeswoman Jenny Monroe deferred comment to the other agencies.
The investigation began when Oklahoma City’s vice squad received information about a minor engaging in prostitution, Knight said. The activity included the use of an online advertisement, Knight said.
Thursday evening, a member of Oklahoma City’s vice squad met the 16-year-old at the hotel where she was taken into protective custody, Knight said. The two males were spotted in a car parked near the room in question and arrested without incident, Knight said.
Knight said Joshua R. Hudson, 21, arrested on a human trafficking complaint, is accused of profiting off the 16-year-old victim. Monday morning, he was incarcerated in the county jail on a $55,000 bond, according to jail records. Attorney information was not available by press time.
Knight said the 17-year-old was arrested on complaints of soliciting sexual contact with a minor by the use of technology and possession of marijuana.
Human trafficking is defined by the International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators as: The exploitation by force, fraud or coercion of vulnerable people for forced labor, domestic servitude or commercial sex operation. Under state law, a minor is an individual under age 18.
State law calls for human trafficking victims to be housed in an appropriate shelter as soon as practical, not to be jailed, fined or otherwise penalized due to having been trafficked, to receive prompt medical care, food and other assistance and to have access to legal assistance.
OBN spokesman Mark Woodward said his agency was involved at the state level just as the FBI was involved on the federal level. The OBN was aided by a law that took effect Nov. 1, Woodward said.
Woodward said before the passage of Senate Bill 1734 OBN agents were not allowed to investigate any human trafficking allegation related to a drug case they were working. Such a combination was a fairly common occurrence, and having to stop in the middle of one was frustrating for the agency, Woodward said.
The new law gives all peace officers in Oklahoma the authority to investigate human trafficking. The OBN has a Human Trafficking Division. Woodward encouraged anyone with information regarding human trafficking in Oklahoma to call the OBN’s 24-hour tipline 855-617-2288.
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