Lamb’s proposal combating human trafficking heads to Gov. Henry

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 18-May-2010

The Oklahoma State Senate has given unanimous approval to a measure by Majority Floor Leader Todd Lamb that strengthens laws against human trafficking, which is now the second-largest world-wide criminal activity, behind illegal drugs.

Lamb, an Edmond Republican, said Senate Bill 956 will give Oklahoma the most stringent laws to combat human trafficking, sending a strong message to sexual predators that they are not welcome in Oklahoma.

“As a former Secret Service Agent, I know how important it is for federal agents to be able to work with local law enforcement in a productive manner.  The goal of this legislation is to forge a seamless relationship that stops the abhorrent practice of human trafficking,” Lamb said.

Lamb added, “This legislation has been a two year project that will bring Oklahoma law up-to-date by defining human trafficking activity and provide for tougher punishment against those who make the exploitation of human beings a criminal enterprise.”

Mark Elam, Executive Director of Oklahomans Against Trafficking Humans (OATH), cited the importance of this legislation.

“Because of the lack of information and lack of enforcement against these criminals, this activity has accelerated with Oklahoma serving as a major interstate crossroads,” said Elam.  “It has gone unnoticed and unreported, but with awareness and enforcement we can really start dealing with this issue.”

Elam added that because of S.B. 956, local law enforcement will now be able to get on board in the issue of human trafficking so that more than just a handful of FBI agents are left to handle the entire caseload.

Lamb said as a father of two young children, he was particularly concerned about the exploitation of Oklahoma’s youth.

“One of the most primary responsibilities of government is to protect those that are the most vulnerable.  This legislation will do just that.”

Lamb has focused energy the last two legislative sessions on efforts to combat human trafficking, particularly exploitation of women and children. At a January press conference detailing Republican Senate caucus priorities for the 2010 session, Sen. Lamb told reporters, “Human trafficking is the second largest criminal activity in the world.”

He noted that Oklahoma’s location makes the Sooner State a key battleground for authorities accustomed to combating the trafficking plague in states like New York and California.

S.B.  956
was initially approved in both houses last year and has been awaiting final action in both houses.

According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is now the third-largest world-wide criminal activity, behind drugs and arms dealing. Jolley said the international victims are brought to the United States seeking legitimate work and a better life for themselves and their families, only to find themselves forced into virtual slavery; often in the sex trade including prostitution and pornography. 

Now that Senate Bill 956 has passed both houses, it will head to the Governor’s desk for his consideration and approval.

NOTE: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.