Central Oklahoma Salvation Army engages in war on human trafficking

Central Oklahoma Salvation Army spokeswoman, Maj. Francina Proctor, says everyone needs to be aware of human trafficking to combat the problem.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: November 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm •  Published: November 8, 2012
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A new law went into effect Nov. 1 that creates a human trafficking division within Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.

Mark Woodward, spokesman for the bureau, said the new division makes sense logistically.

Federal agents in Oklahoma have made more than 70 arrests from prostitution stings since June, including four underage girls. And of 150 prostitution-related arrests made by Oklahoma City police in 2011, 127 were trafficking based. But the bureau's new trafficking division will be the first of its kind at the state level.

“We've been running into investigations off and on for years where it has a human trafficking nexus, but we don't have statutory authority to investigate those,” Woodward said. “Drug traffickers are also trafficking humans, weapons — anything for money.”

Sometimes drug cartels will traffic local girls and women, but often they will bring immigrants from Mexico or elsewhere to Oklahoma to be prostituted, Proctor said.

It's a trade involving as much as 30 million women and children worldwide, and traffickers can fetch as much as $23,000 per human per year, she said.

“I want to see people get angry about it. I want to see people angry about child pornography,” she said.

Salvation Army aids fight

The Salvation Army has partnered with law enforcement and several other organizations — notably Oklahomans Against Trafficking Humans — to bring attention to the problem.

A new series of public service announcements are set to roll out soon, but what's really needed are more advocates, she said.

There are only four centers nationwide equipped to take in and treat child trafficking victims, she said. Local law enforcement does not have the resources to care for these girls, she said, and many of them end up in jail or back out on the streets.

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