Oklahoma City Police Make Human Trafficking Bust

Friday, January 24th 2014, 10:38 pm
By: News 9

Philip Gatson, 23, is currently in the Oklahoma County jail on $50,000 bond. He's a known pimp who has repeated arrests, including one just 10 days ago for a prostitution related complaint. But he keeps getting out. And goes right back to what he knows, trafficking women and children.

Oklahoma City police arrested Gatson and Sylvia WIlliams outside a gas station off NW 122nd and MacArthur, after officers found them with a 17-year-old runaway out of Tulsa who was listed on the national crime database as a sex trafficking victim.

He was also one of the many people arrested back in 2012 and 2013 during Operation Cross Country - a nationwide sting set up by the FBI and local law enforcement aimed at getting known pimps, prostitutes and human traffickers behind bars and trying to rescue underage girls from the exploitive lifestyle.

"People are just preyed upon," said Dr. Lori Basey with No Boundaries International, a group trying to help prostitutes leave the world's oldest known profession.

"It's those who are in dire situations, or those with lower self-esteem, or those who just make one bad choice. And so it's just so frustrating to see."

Basey is just one of the many involved in the fight against human trafficking who gathered Friday evening for a candlelight vigil at the Oklahoma Bar Association.

"We just like to remind them that they are beautiful," said Basey. "And that they are made for something more than that and we just take them by the hand and help them find a way out if that is what they are looking for."

"When these women are brought off the streets, and when they come to us, there is such a high level of fear," said Sonya Martinez.

Martinez is the director of Beautiful Dream Society, an organization that has set up a shelter for victims of human trafficking right here in Oklahoma City.

"They want to make changes," said Martinez. "And sometimes they don't know how and they don't feel safe."

The human trafficking hotline is (405) 717-1221. It is manned 24/7 and all calls are kept confidential.

January is human trafficking awareness month. Wearing a blue ribbon is a way you can show your support for those trying to stop sex trafficking.