Human Trafficking Operation Busted In OKC, Help To Prostitutes
OKLAHOMA CITY - Police bust a house of prostitution in Southwest Oklahoma city. Officers arrested Walter Enoc-Mejia, Christina Zafra, Norma Rodriguez and Alberto Lagunes for the human trafficking operation. All four were booked into the Oklahoma County Jail after a Homeland Security Investigation claims the group is responsible for aiding and abetting with human trafficking.
In light of the arrest, a prostitute said one group is trying to prevent prostitutes from ending up in the same place. The prostitute opened up about working the streets and the group actively trying to get her and other girls to quit this line of work.
The only thing she is not willing to reveal is her identity. So for this story she is referred to as Hope.
"This is what I know so this is what I do," said Hope. "They are not out here judging nobody or criticizing us for what we do."
As a prostitute on Robinson, Hope says more people try to hurt her than help. Until, she met the women from No Boundaries International.
"They are sincere about what they are doing you know they are really trying to help girls or lost souls," said Hope.
By getting out on the same streets as prostitutes, Debi Mangrum and other volunteers with No Boundaries get closer to the women they want to help.
"I would just like to take them away now," said Mangrum. "But it has to be on their time when they are ready."
The faith-based organization establishes trust and personal relationships with each prostitute hoping the friendship will give the women courage to make a change. So far, No Boundaries has met with 30 prostitutes.
"It's going to take some time," said Mangrum. "I mean they didn't get there overnight."
On one weekend, Brian Bates, a video activist who also targets street prostitution, captures a different view of Robinson. Bates explains prostitutes allow the volunteers to pray with them for their family, safety and the strength to quit.
"It's unrealistic to think that they are going to stop prostitution, but I think what they are going to do is change the lives of just a few people and that is enough," said Bates.
Although Hope is not ready, she knows it's available in the future.
"There are other choices that you can make and if you can't do it alone then they are here for you," said Hope.
No Boundaries began the initiative in November. The organization has not convinced a prostitute in Oklahoma to leave the streets to this point, but says they have witnessed the program work in foreign countries plagued with human trafficking. No Boundaries staff and volunteers are also working to become advocates for prostitutes in court.
The group hopes to keep them from receiving felony convictions that could further prevent their ability to get other jobs. The next public meeting will be February 10, 2012 from 6-9 p.m. at the Salvation Army located at 2808 S.E. 44th in Oklahoma City.