TULSA – Two people were arrested this week after a woman claimed the pair forced her into prostitution, according to Tulsa police.
Maricus Moore and Ariel Smith were both arrested on complaint of human trafficking Thursday after allegedly forcing a woman to commit sexual acts and be compensated in return.
The woman was found after a Tulsa police officer posed as a customer and arranged a meeting on the website backpage.com. An agreement was reached between the police officer and the person who posted the advertisement.
After entering the room at the Studio 6 Motel near E. 41st street, the Tulsa police officer said he was offered sex in exchange for money. The woman was then placed under arrest but told the police officer that she was forced into the situation.
The victim told police she was “recruited” at a gas station located at 51st and Memorial. A man told her that if she did not cooperate, she would be beaten.
Tulsa police, with the help of the victim, were able to connect Moore and Smith as the suspects who forced her into prostitution.
Smith was arrested at the location and Moore was detained not long after, reports Tulsa police.
Experts say situations like this happen often in Oklahoma. Just this year, nearly 200 victims of trafficking have been identified in the state alone.
Those who fall victim are usually coerced into performing sexual acts, according to Wilma Lively, the executive director at DaySpring Villa, a women's shelter.
"It can happen anywhere, and it does happen anywhere," Lively says.
She adds that women or men or are "recruited" into sex trafficking usually have insecure tendencies, which is what most traffickers prey on.
Lively say in Oklahoma, victims aren't usually brought in from out of state. Most are trafficked by someone they know.
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