Hundreds arrested, 5 missing children found
during U.S. Marshals’ operation targeting
metro gang activities
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – An operation led by the U.S. Marshals Service targeting gang activities in the Oklahoma City metro resulted in 262 arrests, the discovery of five missing and endangered children and the seizure of firearms and narcotics.
According to the U.S. Marshals, the 60-day “Operation Triple Beam,” which concluded on Sept. 6, targeted violent fugitives and criminal offenders who committed high-profile crimes, such as homicide, felony assault and sexual assault, illegal possession of firearms, illegal drug distribution, robbery and arson.
Officials said among the people arrested, 141 were confirmed gang members.
The U.S. Marshals Service Metro Fugitive Task Force also safely located a total of five missing children during the operation, officials said.
Law enforcement officers seized 72 firearms, more than nine kilograms of narcotics and nearly $17,000 in currency, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
The operation was conducted in partnership with multiple local law enforcement agencies, including Oklahoma City police, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, Shawnee and Yukon police, Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma Department of Corrections and more.
According to authorities, a suspect in a homicide that occurred in California was taken into custody in the Oklahoma City area. Four detectives with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office traveled to Oklahoma City to continue their homicide investigation. They interviewed the suspect and witnesses, and served search warrants in Oklahoma City.
One of the detectives became ill shortly after he returned home. He had contracted COVID-19 and died after spending a few weeks in the hospital, Johnny L. Kuhlman, U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Oklahoma, said during the news conference. The detective was laid to rest Wednesday.
North Texas hotels ignore sex trafficking,
exploitation of children, lawsuit says
Three national hotel chains are accused of being complicit in sex trafficking at hotels across the country including various ones in North Texas, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Dallas this week.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a woman identified as F.M. who says she was sexually exploited at North Texas hotels beginning when she was 4 years old. The woman is now in her 20s and lives in Tarrant County.
The lawsuit, filed by Houston-based Lanier Law Firm on Monday, includes Best Western, Hyatt and Red Lion hotels, and says that the companies ignored criminal activity occurring on their property and failed to protect victims of sex trafficking from exploitation.
“The hotel industry plays a crucial role in the sex trade,” said Lanier Law Firm founder Mark Lanier in a statement released Wednesday. “For too long, the industry has profited by looking the other way when sex trafficking has been happening right in front of them. We’re filing this lawsuit to get some justice for victims and to let these businesses know that their lack of action is unacceptable.”
In a statement Wednesday, BWH Hotel Group said, “Best Western International, Inc. condemns human trafficking. It is a despicable crime and the criminals who intentionally inflict this suffering on their victims should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Best Western supports the industry’s efforts to raise awareness and fight against this inhumane and horrific crime.
“While Best Western branded hotels are independently owned and operated, we require that each member hotel complies with all laws and treats all hotel guests consistent with our core values of integrity, honesty, and respect for others’ dignity,” the statement continued. “We provide information and training resources to member hotels on this serious issue such that hotels can educate their staff about how to recognize and report instances of trafficking.”
Officials at Red Lion and Hyatt could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
The suit specifically names Best Western Plus DFW Airport Suites, Hyatt House Dallas/Frisco, Best Western Irving Inn & Suites at DFW Airport, and the America’s Best Value Inn Irving/Dallas.
Sex trafficking generates an estimated $99 billion each year, making it the second-largest illicit crime industry behind the sale of illegal drugs, according to the lawsuit. More than 60 percent of sex trafficking offenses occur in hotels, while eight out of 10 arrests for human trafficking occur in or around hotels, the lawsuit says.
VICTIM SAYS SHE WAS DRUGGED AND ASSAULTED FOR YEARS
In the lawsuit, F.M. gave this account of being exploited:
Her father, to sustain his drug addiction, sold her to traffickers in Irving for sex when she was 4.
She was given unidentified pills by her trafficker on average to five to 10 times each day, according to the lawsuit. Her traffickers would tie her and other children up and place them blindfolded in the back of a van.
When they arrived at a hotel, a hotel bellmen would be there to meet them and send them to assigned hotel rooms where buyers would be waiting for them, the lawsuit stated.
F.M. was bound, blindfolded and sent to rooms where “johns” were awaiting her and other children. She was then tied to a bed and sexually assaulted, according to the lawsuit.
From age 4 to 18, F.M. was trafficked to buyers for sex and abuse at the Best Western Plus DFW Airport Suites, the Best Western Irving Inn & Suites at DFW Airport in Irving and the Hyatt House Dallas/Frisco in Frisco, she said in the suit.
By the age of 20, F.M. was in the possession of her third trafficker and being trafficked at America’s Best Value Inn Irving/Dallas in Irving, the suit says.
She was advertised on Craigslist.com
At the age of 20, F.M. was hospitalized and could not work. Her trafficker punished her 2-year-old son by raping the child while F.M. watched, according to the lawsuit.
Her trafficker controlled her by making her dependent on methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.
A number of nationwide campaigns recognized trafficking in the hotel industry and several hotel companies took initiative to combat the problem, but the lawsuit says Best Western, Hyatt and Red Lion have repeatedly failed to thwart sexual exploitation at their hotels.
The lawsuit listed some indicators of sex trafficking at a hotel. They include:
An excess of condoms in rooms.
Individuals carrying large amounts of cash.
Renting two rooms next door to each other.
Declining room service for several hours.
Men traveling with multiple women who appear unrelated.
Guests checking in with little or no luggage.
Women known to be staying in rooms without leaving.
Hotel guests who prevent another individual from speaking for themselves.
The lawsuit listed more than 20 incidents of arrests and rescues of people and children in sex trafficking or exploitation cases at hotels operated by Red Lion, Hyatt and Best Western.
The Texas Medical Board has suspended the license of a North Texas physician after his arrest on charges of child sex assault and drug possession.
Timothy Morris Collins, 53, of Arlington was booked into the Tarrant County jail Oct. 30 on two counts of sexual assault of a child and one count of possession of 1 to 4 grams of a controlled substance. He posted $52,500 bond the following day, court records show.
A disciplinary panel of the state’s medical board temporarily suspended his license without notice Thursday “after determining his continuation in the practice of medicine poses a continuing threat to public welfare,” the board said in a written statement.
Collins, who specializes in family medicine, has been licensed since 1995. According to the board and his LinkedIn profile, he practices at Plano-based North Texas Medical Specialists.
Court records indicate that the incidents that led to the sexual assault charges took place in 1995 and 2012. Police have not released any additional information about those charges.
A criminal complaint for the drug charge says Collins was in possession of methamphetamine Oct. 29.
Collins was arrested in 2016 on a drug-possession charge after authorities said he had meth, but a Tarrant County grand jury opted not to indict him.
The state medical board has twice taken disciplinary action against him in the past.
In 2011, the board found Collins had failed to keep accurate records about his purchases and disposal of controlled substances and ordered him to take continuing medical education and pay a $1,000 fine.
Three years later, the board found that Collins had solicited a patient for financial help, kept medical records that didn’t support multiple patients’ prescriptions to controlled substances and didn’t cooperate with the board.
In lieu of suspending his license, the board put Collins on a probationary period that included a public reprimand, oversight of his practice by another physician and the requirement that he reapply to the Drug Enforcement Admin-istration and Texas Department of Public Safety to be able to prescribe controlled substances.
AG Paxton’s Child Exploitation Unit Arrests Lampasas County Man for Possession of Child Pornography
AUSTIN, TX – Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) of his office arrested 53-year-old John Walter Sickles, of Kempner, Texas, on one count of possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony.
A CyberTipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® (NCMEC) identified a file of child pornography uploaded on social media and led CEU investigators to Sickles.
During the execution of a search warrant at his home, investigators seized multiple digital storage devices, which will be examined by the Digital Forensics Unit of the attorney general’s office.
Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who assisted with the execution of the search warrant, are also conducting a narcotics investigation after discovering substances believed to be methamphetamine in Sickles’ residence.
Attorney General Paxton’s office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.
The CEU proactively seeks out and arrests predators who commit crimes against children using technology and online sources.
Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks our children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety.
If you suspect someone is producing or downloading child pornography you can report it to NCMEC: CyberTipline 1-800-843-5678
Waynesboro woman did drugs prior to baby being found dead
WAYNESBORO, VA – The case of a Waynesboro woman whose baby was found dead last year concluded Wednesday with a conviction.
Christian P. Haynes, 19, is facing the possibility of 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in Waynesboro Circuit Court to a felony charge of child abuse.
Zayden Haynes, just 7 months old, was found dead March 3, 2018, after his mother neglected to check on him for 15 hours, according to Waynesboro assistant prosecutor Elysse Stolpe.
The baby was placed in a crib with an adult blanket, an adult pillow and had a bottle propped up onto his mouth when Haynes last saw him the night before at 11 p.m., Stolpe said.
The next day at 11 a.m., Haynes heard the baby crying but opted to let him “cry it out, even though she hadn’t checked on him for about 12 hours,” according to Stolpe.
Three hours later, Haynes, 18 years old at the time, woke up shortly after 2 p.m. and posted a selfie online. Five minutes after that a 911 call was placed when the baby was found unresponsive.
Stolpe said Haynes began smoking meth three days prior to the boy’s death, which kept her awake for days. The prosecutor said Haynes was tired and “coming down off that high” when she failed to properly care for her child.
A search of Haynes’ residence revealed there was methamphetamine and marijuana in the home. A smoking device was found near the child’s crib and another one was discovered next to his playpen in another room, Stolpe said. Haynes also admitted to sometimes smoking meth inside a closet in the baby’s room.
Stolpe said a drug screen done at the home by an Augusta County Child Protective Services employee showed Haynes had meth and marijuana in her system.
“This underscores that drugs aren’t just a victimless crime,” Stolpe said. “A child is dead because his mother was too busy getting high and then sleeping it off.”
Stolpe said the Waynesboro Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office considered a more serious homicide charge, but said an autopsy was inconclusive in determining if the baby suffocated to death. “Sudden unexplained infant death associated with unsafe bedding” was listed as the cause of death, according to Stolpe.
Following her guilty plea, Haynes, who has no prior criminal record, was allowed to remain free on bond.