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United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma

01/24/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/24/2020 18:13

Tulsa Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking through Force and Coercion

TULSA, Okla. -A federal jury today returned a guilty verdict against a man who trafficked a woman through force and coercion then attempted to obstruct the investigation into his crimes, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.

Ramar Travelle Palms, 31, was convicted of the sex trafficking through the use of force, fraud and coercion; attempted obstruction of sex trafficking enforcement; and transporting an individual for prostitution.

'The jury got it right, and I thank them for their service. Human trafficking is a vile and repugnant crime, and it's happening right here in Oklahoma. So called 'pimps' like Mr. Palms dehumanize victims through psychological abuse and sexual exploitation. They control victims with violence and threats,' said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. 'The victim in this case, however, was also survivor. She testified in this case, facing her tormentor as he sat across the courtroom. I hope her courage and this guilty verdict will give hope to others that help is out there. The Tulsa Police Department and U.S. Attorney's Office remain deeply committed to ensuring every victim's voice is heard. Together, we will work tirelessly to eradicate human trafficking in our community. From the traffickers who supply commercial sex to the 'Johns' who demand it, you will be prosecuted.'

During the four-day trial, the United States showed that Palms trafficked the victim in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Houston. Palms forced the victim to advertise on CityXGuide.com and book hotel rooms in her name, particularly in areas that were closer to higher paying, wealthier johns. He provided the money to advertise and book the rooms but did not allow his name to be associated with the activity in an effort to distance himself legally from the activity.

A Tulsa Police officer testified that he originally met the victim in November 2018 in Tulsa. The Vice officer answered an online advertisement for a '$100 Quick Visit' with the victim, which indicates a short prostitution visit. When the officer arrived, he noticed Palms at the bottom of the stairs watching him enter the hotel. Once with the victim, the officer identified himself and the two discussed the trafficking operation. The victim revealed that she did not willingly participate in prostitution.

The United States argued that the victim did not simply enter into a mutual agreement with Palms to participate in the sex trade as the defense contended. Prosecutors showed that Palms glorified the pimp lifestyle and bragged about making money from selling women. They argued that Palms controlled the victim, the trafficking operations and the money he received from exploiting the victim. They stated that Palms was a 'finesse pimp' who used charm to gain the victim's trust and affection. Then he also began to use control, fear and violence to force and keep the victim in a life of prostitution. The victim described how Palms abused her, often strangling her, when he was angry or she did not produce enough money. The victim also testified that she witnessed Palms violently abusing another female he trafficked.

In the prosecution's closing, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Nassar and Edward Snow reminded the jury that this trafficking case was about money, violence, fear and control. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nassar described how Palms targeted a vulnerable woman, isolated her, degraded her and imposed his will and force upon her, leading the victim to live in fear if she ever 'stepped out of line.' He reminded the jury that the only thing Palms cared about was using the victim to make money. The prosecutors asked the jury to follow the evidence and find Palms guilty.

The Tulsa Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Nassar and Edward Snow prosecuted the case.