The Norman Transcript

Editorials

October 5, 2012

Oklahoma a leader human trafficking

NORMAN — It’s a dirty — actually tragic — little secret. The U.S. State Department lists the United States as the No. 1 destination for human trafficking, especially of children and young teens. California, New York, Texas and Oklahoma are at the top of the list of states most active.

That sordid fact came home a year ago when the remains of 19-year-old Carina Saunders were found in a duffel bag discarded behind a grocery store in Bethany. Two men were charged — one a Mexican national and the other an Oklahoman who told police the young woman was killed to send a message to other kidnapped prostitutes controlled by a trafficking ring.

Last week, a legislative panel heard harrowing tales about human trafficking and how close to home it really is. A Sand Springs woman, now 41, went from being a straight-A cheerleader from a middle-class family to the victim of child trafficking in the 1980s.

What the legislative panel does with the information it received will become apparent next session. While there are laws against human trafficking what’s needed is tougher enforcement and the police power to investigate trafficking rings.

Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, who requested the study, said the woman’s story contained a powerful message about the reality of human trafficking. “What the general public often doesn’t realize is that now the average age of recruitment is between 12 and 14,” she said.

A law passed by the legislature recently created a new, seven-agent unit within the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs dedicated to investigating human trafficking. Darrell Weaver, the agency’s executive director, said, “Someone told me years ago that human trafficking could be larger than drug trafficking. I didn’t want to believe them, but the more we look at this, it’s surely more troubling because of the victims.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Editorials
  • There’s no need to fix system that’s working

    Lawmaker attempts to alter the way judges are selected are being challenged by the state’s lawyers. More than 1,800 signatures on a state bar association petition urging a “no” vote on Senate Joint Resolution 21 have been gathered in just ...

    April 18, 2014

  • On the side of openness

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has been criticized for failing to release emails and other information sought by press outlets who believe it was covered under the state’s Open Records Act. Now, Fallin is coming down on the side of keeping the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • A raise for troopers, but what about others?

    Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers could see an increase in their paychecks during the state’s next fiscal year, which begins in July....

    April 17, 2014

  • Top honors for NPS

    Top honors keep rolling in for both of Norman’s high schools. The district learned this past week that Norman High School and Norman North High School have been recognized as two of the most rigorous high schools in the country and in the ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Wind power bursting

    There are a few wind generators dotting the Norman skyline, but western and northwestern Oklahoma makes up for the deficit here. An industry group this week said Oklahoma ranks fourth nationally in the amount of wind-generated ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Protect your home from wildfires

    To most people, fuel is what you put into your gas tank. To firefighters, it means something altogether different. To people who make a living putting out fires, fuel is that material that feeds wildfires — and there is an abundance of it ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Let’s toast: Main Street bridge nearly complete

    It was January 2013 when crews began knocking down the Main Street bridge over Interstate 35. The timeline on completion has always been this May. If everything comes together and the weather holds for the next few days, the overpass and ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Yes to Capitol and museum

    Two major spending bills have emerged from the powerful House Appropriations and Budget Committee headed by Norman Rep. Scott Martin. Both are up for passage in the full House of Representatives. We believe both deserve passage....

    April 11, 2014

  • Assistance needed

    The planned reopening of the Canadian River bridge connecting Purcell and Lexington is still more than two months away. Some of the businesses that depended on cross-bridge trade may not make it that long....

    April 11, 2014

  • Voters need speak up

    As candidates gear up to get their names on the ballot this year, it also may be time for voters to take some initiative, too....

    April 9, 2014

Video
Facebook