There's a war waging across our state. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is leading the nation with a new way to fight human trafficking.
"I believe without a doubt we're the leading drug enforcement agency in our nation," Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Director Darrell Weaver said. "We're trend setters and I'm not going to give up until we're the trend setters when it comes to human trafficking."
Mark Elam with OATH, Oklahomans Against Trafficking Humans, has spent years rescuing Oklahomans forced into sex and labor. Now there's a new weapon in the arsenal, OBN's Human Trafficking Unit.
"We've never really had this type of effort in law enforcement," Elam said. "Dedicated officers to try and help these girls get free and get to safety."
Director Weaver understands the connection between the war on drugs and the war on human trafficking.
"The same type of vice crimes that happen with drug enforcement also happen with some of the human trafficking components." Weaver said. "We have the undercover capacity, the surveillance techniques, quite frankly, we have the confidential sources, the informants, to be to infiltrate some of these groups."
The seven member OBN unit has spent the past six months training with the best law enforcement in Oklahoma and around the country. We spoke with one of the agents who can't be identified because he works undercover.
"We're working on making sure we have the training and background to identify and deal with these cases," the agent said.
Their training includes cyber investigations, labor trafficking and sex slavery.
"This crime is typically in broad daylight. It occurs right under our noses," the agent said.
That's why it's crucial we're aware. OATH hopes billboards up around the metro will open our eyes.
"Anytime there's money involved in it and there's a demand, there's going to be somebody willing to step up for the supply," the agent said.
"It really shocks the conscience of Oklahomans. It shocks my conscience," Weaver said. "We want to get that kilo of cocaine, but I submit to you, it's more important to save that child and that's what we're going to try to do."
Law enforcement needs our help, alerting them if we know someone who is a victim or notice suspicious activity.
Call the OBN Human Trafficking hotline at (855)-617-2288.