Human trafficking bust leads to 6 guilty pleas

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 3/12/2013 5:46 pm Published: 3/12/2013 4:37 pm

Federal and Tulsa law enforcement worked together to arrest six people as part of a human trafficking sting called “Operation Poker Chip.”

Juan Rosales Garza, Sermaias Samuel Sanchez Ajin, Antonio Felix Velasquez-Lopez, Israel Velasquez-Lopez, Piedad Garcia and Gloria Giammalva all pleaded guilty to human trafficking related charges.

A seventh suspect, Ignacio Ijom-Brito, also pleaded guilty in federal court.

FOX23 first reported about the operation in January when agents from Houston learned a woman was being held against her will at the Cimarron Apartment Complex near the Broken Arrow Expressway and Highway 169.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI staked out the apartment and saw dozens of men going in and out of the building. Investigators say the ‘johns’ would buy different colored poker chips based on the sexual act they wanted to purchase.

“We're finding these brothels in the dead center of apartment complexes and additions. They're not in country or rural areas, they are right in the middle of the town and your next door neighbor could be the victim of human trafficking," said Major Shannon Clark with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators say one of the victims in this case was able to signal where she was by placing a black high heeled shoe in the window; they then got a search warrant and rescued the woman.

Investigators used an interpreter to talk to the woman for their investigation. Six bills regarding human trafficking in Oklahoma have been introduced in the state legislature this session.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Quiet Man - 3/12/2013 6:10 PM
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Life without the possibility of parole or a short waiting period on death row. Human sex trafficking is one of the most vile growing crime trends and needs to be stamped out hard!
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