A bill to strengthen Oklahoma’s human trafficking laws and better protect underage victims was signed into law. Senate Bill 34, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Scott Biggs, provides that lack of knowledge of the age of the victim does not constitute a defense for the human trafficking of a minor.
There are different types of human trafficking including sex trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude and it occurs through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
Human trafficking is a common crime in Oklahoma because of its location along the I-40 and I-35 corridor as well as the prominence of various social problems.
“Traffickers look for vulnerable individuals, and Oklahoma’s high rate of poverty, teen pregnancy, drug addiction and domestic abuse make this prime territory to find victims,” said Biggs, R-Chickasha.
In the last fiscal year, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) initiated nationwide 1,034 investigations of human trafficking and recorded 1,437 arrests, 751 indictments, and 587 convictions; 384 victims were identified and assisted.
SB 34 will go into effect November 1, 2017.