OBN Town Hall Meetings Educate Oklahomans On Human Trafficking - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

OBN Town Hall Meetings Educate Oklahomans On Human Trafficking

ARDMORE, OK -- According to the FBI, right here in this country people are being bought, sold, and smuggled like modern-day slaves.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is holding a series of town hall meetings trying to educate people about the crime of human trafficking.

Although authorities say it is difficult to assess the full extent of human trafficking, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates about  2.5 million people are victims at any one time.

"There's all these issues that we're faced with that really go beyond the scope of law enforcement," said Darrell Weaver, director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

Oklahoma statutes define human trafficking as the exploitation by force, fraud, or coercion of vulnerable people for forced labor, domestic servitude, or commercial sex operations.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is making stops across the state to hold meetings like the one in Ardmore on Tuesday to educate Oklahomans.

The OBN director calls human trafficking an in progress type of crime. He says the best weapons to defend against it are awareness and calling people to action.

"I mean we all as a society this is just not a Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics problem or a law enforcement problem," said Director Weaver. "This is a state problem."

Kim Blanton attended Tuesday night's meeting to learn more as a teacher and parent.

She brought along her daughter Hannah to the meeting so she could pick up a few tips as well.

"I think these are exactly the type of kids that think that, 'Oh that could never happen to me. I live in small town Ardmore.' and I think that's exactly why they do need the information," said Blanton.

Hannah who's a sophomore in high school says the presentation was helpful.

"I'll be able to protect myself more and be more cautious of things around me," said Hannah.

Director Weaver says another common problem in Oklahoma--teen runaways--are the main targets of human traffickers.

The bureau encourages the public to contact their agency's unit to report suspected human trafficking in Oklahoma. 

The bureau's Human Trafficking Unit tipline is: 1-855-617-2288