LAWTON, Okla._A sting to uncover human trafficking and prostitution in Lawton led to 25 arrests, including some Ft. Sill soldiers.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the Lawton Police Department and Homeland Security worked around the clock for 48-hours on the undercover operation, they hope the results will discourage a growing problem.
This week marked the third part of an ongoing operation for OBN and Lawton Police. Operation "Pretty Woman Three" was the largest of the three operations and targeted prostitution stemming from online ads and authorities believe this week's arrests are key to helping stop prostitution and human trafficking here in Lawton, especially since the operation identified two victims of human trafficking.
48 hours and 25 arrested. The undercover operation took part in local hotels where agents acted as both clients and escorts to tackle all sides of the crime.
"It has turned into an industry and they are in it for money and it is obviously profitable but there are definitely victims in this, and these women were rescued out situations they felt were threatening to their lives," said Detective Nancy Lombardo of the Lawton Police Department.
13 johns, 9 prostitutes, and 3 pimps were all taken into custody during the operation. And Lawton Police Detective Nancy Lombardo said that it's the backgrounds of those arrested that shows that people from all walks of life can be involved in the crime.
"We had individuals that were anywhere from 20 to 50 years old and it is a wide variety of people. There is no set culture or race that is attracted to this kind of scenario," said Detective Lombardo.
Authorities said that prostitution and human trafficking are crimes that continue to grow out of control across the state and that's why state and local agencies are refusing to back down on their fight to rid the area's streets of the problem.
"Ultimately it is safety. This is a dangerous thing to do, dangerous thing to partake in, and it's illegal. There are definitely other ways and we are trying to prevent this and prevent victims. We are trying to save lives," said Detective Lombardo.
This week's operation was especially vital because it identified two pimps from the Oklahoma City area who were beginning to work here in Lawton.
Several Ft. Sill soldiers were arrested in the sting. Thursday, Lieutenant Colonel Rory Crooks released a statement on behalf of the post, saying "we have some soldiers whose actions do not reflect the values of our profession." They vowed to continue to support LPD's investigation into the crimes.