NORMAN — Oklahoma City Police Detective and FBI task force member Robert Kemmet discussed human trafficking with the Cleveland County GOP Club on Tuesday, revealing surprising facts about human exploitation and some tactics of modern child predators.
Kemmet defined human trafficking as any operation in which humans are a commodity, saying that more than 90 percent of human trafficking in the state is labor-related and calling the state’s sex trafficking — and particularly the child sex trafficking market — “negligible.”
“Child prostitution in Oklahoma is negligible at best. Most operations in the state are transient, and Oklahoma as a destination simply doesn’t have the market for large-scale sex trafficking,” Kemmet said. “Oklahoma’s market for prostitution itself is not very big, comparatively, and when we have issues crop up, law enforcement is fully capable of responding quickly.”
The highest concentration of human trafficking and labor exploitation, Kemmet said, occurs in northwest Oklahoma, with the most large-scale operations going on in rural farms and ranches.
In addition to basic facts/figures, Kemmet detailed the major challenges law enforcement faces in dealing with trafficking cases, the unforeseen negative outcomes of intervention and tips on types of charities donors should avoid.
“(The task force) isn’t going to jump on labor cases because we’re almost victimizing labor exploitation victims by taking them into custody,” Kemmet said. “We’re walking a fine line, because if we go in and take down a major operation with hundreds and hundreds of ‘victims,’ only one will qualify for a testimony visa. The rest will be deported.
“Even those who do qualify for a visa are now left in a foreign country homeless and jobless and aren’t necessarily willing to testify against an employer who paid them more than they earned back home.
“What’s more, if we go in and shut down a big operation, we’re likely destroying jobs of innocent people who weren’t involved. So, everyone gets very negatively affected.”