TULSA, Okla. — A special multi-agency investigation targeting an online prostitution scheme has nabbed more arrests.
FOX23 first told you about "Operation Velvet Fury" last month. Investigators with Tulsa police, Broken Arrow police, the Oklahoma Attorney General's office and the Tulsa County District Attorney's office worked together to crack down on the Johns soliciting sex.
The District Attorney’s office said the old way of targeting prostitutes is to arrest the prostitutes themselves, and hope they provide information about Johns and their employers. But investigators say that rarely works, and only sends the women into deeper debt and more legal trouble that ruins their chances at a legitimate job.
Investigators uncovered an online network of people using an app called Discord to arrange for sexual encounters, they said. Users had code words and abbreviations for different sex acts and locations. Johns would meet the women at brothels fronting as massage parlors, according to investigators.
As of Oct. 7, court papers state there was in excess of 50 users on the app listed as prostitutes and more than 250 users listed as “Johns.”
Two people were charged and arrested overnight in connection with this operation: Mason Hudspeth and Ron Hardy.
Court papers state Hudspeth had conversations arranging meet ups and specific sex acts with prostitutes. He used special language and methods to avoid detection from law enforcement.
Documents also state Hardy used the online forum to solicit sex and pornography with prostitutes for profit.
The DA’s office said this is an ongoing and active investigation. They will continue to file charges on people involved in the scheme as they learn more.
Investigators people to know that prostitution is still illegal and will be treated as such. First, they will try to get the women involved the help they need, whether it’s a safe place to stay, rehab, or negating other problems that may have led them to prostitution.
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