Ada man 4th arrested in sex trafficking ring
ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - Darrius Ferguson was arrested last month in Ada.
According to Homeland Security Investigations, he’s one of four men accused in a North Texas/Oklahoma sex trafficking ring.
Three others were already arrested.
Qumain Black, a former NFL player from Ada, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit sex trafficking and was given 14 years.
Adam Anderson also pleaded guilty, and will spend a decade behind bars.
Christopher McCleary pleaded guilty to sex trafficking and having a gun while under a felony indictment.
He’s still waiting to be sentenced.
According to the HSI, the men would rent hotel rooms and post advertisements in order to find men looking for sexual favors on websites like Seeking Arrangement and Skip the Game.
Homeland Security said Black was in charge of setting the time and price for commercial sex acts.
HSI said three adult victims came forward in the case. The victims said the men pointed guns at them as a threat.
Amy Hernandez with Domestic Violence Intervention Services in Tulsa said that’s not uncommon.
“[Traffickers use various ways] to exploit and to abuse and to continue to control victims in a way that keeps them in these really horrific situations,” Hernandez said. “And threats is definitely on there. It’s something we see very, very commonly. Using weapons is something we see commonly in our most lethal cases.”
Hernandez said for a sex trafficking conviction, federal prosecutors must prove the trafficker used force, fraud or coercion to make the victims comply.
Victims stick around for many reasons.
“Lack of knowledge, not understanding what’s going on, not knowing that it’s unsafe or that its dangerous, or that it’s wrong, and fear,” Hernandez said. “Fear, love, those really strong emotions that tie people are the reasons that people stay.”
Hernandez said at DVIS, she often sees survivors trafficked by someone they love.
“They’re trafficked by their boyfriend, their partner, their parents or their siblings,” Hernandez said. ”So they’re in these relationships that are typically defined by love. And when you’re being harmed by someone you’re in love with, it’s really hard to leave. Because you have all this hope that they’re going to change. Or you’ve convinced yourself that that’s how they show you they love you. And it’s hard to talk someone out of that.”
She said when someone’s being trafficked, their behavior changes.
“All of the sudden they’re isolating, so maybe they’re not really talking to you anymore,” Hernandez said. “Maybe they’re showing signs of being really fearful. New fears have risen up so they’re really cautious all of the sudden when they weren’t before… They might be afraid of their abuser or they might not be able to say no to their abuser.”
Hernandez said once you see the red flags, it’s time to have a difficult conversation and if they’re ready, make a plan.
“So you’re in a space where you know what human trafficking looks like, you have the courage to have those really difficult conversations, and so knowing that you can refer them to community resources... like DVIS, The Spring and Dragonfly Home.”
Hernandez said another way for the community to help is by holding traffickers accountable, and pushing law enforcement to fully investigate cases.
But there are roadblocks to convictions.
“Human trafficking cases still require victims to testify. Our laws still require victim testimony, and that’s a huge barrier.,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said that domestic violence laws used to be the same, but the laws have changed. Now the state can prosecute abusers even if a victim doesn’t want to be involved.
“Pressuring for our human trafficking laws to take the same momentum that our domestic violence laws have taken would be really beneficial,” Hernandez said.
If you are a victim of human trafficking, or you know someone who is, seek help.
For emergencies call 911. To get help from DVIS, call their 24 hour information and crisis line 918.7HELP.ME (918.743.5763). DVIS can provide hospital support to victims of sexual assault, counseling, transitional living, emergency shelter services, legal services, and numerous outreach and community education initiatives.
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