Tulsa Police Hope To Send Message With Recent Prostitution Busts
TULSA, Oklahoma - Wednesday, Tulsa's vice squad busted another massage parlor for prostitution; it’s the fourth one in the past few weeks.
They said it's the kind of undercover work they've always done, but they’re talking about it more often, in hopes of sending a message.
Police realize a lot of people don't think prostitution is a big deal - some don't think it should be illegal.
It’s only a misdemeanor, and police said they know most operations are running again just a couple hours after the bust, but Sergeant Todd Evans said the crime is connected to many other ones.
"There's a lot of extortion, robbery, drugs, gangs, force and control, even sex trafficking and that's the reality of what this is," Evans said.
TPD has made 126 prostitution related arrests since the first of the year. They disagree when people say prostitution is a minor problem police should ignore in order to go after bigger fish.
Evans: "We're looking for the big fish, but we're going after all fish."
Lori: "And these lead to bigger fish?"
Evans: "Yes, day to day, these lead to child and human trafficking as well."
He said, in addition to the crimes that surround prostitution, officers encounter many girls who are positive for Hepatitis C and other diseases that they spread to their customers who could spread it to others.
Prostitution alone is a misdemeanor - unless it's within 1,000 feet of a school or church, then it's a felony.
The owners of the establishments can face a misdemeanor charge, all the way up to many years in prison if the working girl is being forced.
Evans said, "Aiding prostitution is a misdemeanor unless there's force, fear or coercion, and it's human trafficking, then it's a minimum of ten years in prison and 15 if the victim is a juvenile."
Tulsa has 90 massage parlors, and police say they'll keep checking them for prostitution, as well as working prostitution cases that get booked online, which is the majority of them these days.
They said it's a matter of enforcing the laws and trying to clean up the streets.