Leader Of Local Sex Trafficking Conspiracy Pleads Guilty In Federal Court
TULSA, OKLAHOMA—A 21-year-old Tulsa man pleaded guilty in federal court today to charges stemming from a sex trafficking operation conducted by Tulsa Police Department’s Vice Unit, United States Attorney Danny C. Williams, Sr. announced.
Joshua Harring (a/k/a “Maniack”) pleaded guilty before United States District Court Judge John E. Dowdell to Child Sex Trafficking and Conspiracy to Engage in Child Sex Trafficking. A federal grand jury had previously returned a six-count Second Superseding Indictment in October 2016, charging Harring with conspiracy, child sex trafficking violations, obstruction of justice, and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence and drug trafficking crimes. Federal prosecutors claimed Harring was the head of a child sex trafficking venture that victimized at least three Tulsa teenagers. Prosecutors noted that Harring was the sixth defendant to admit his guilt in this case and related cases. Morgan Palmer, Tajuan Alexander, Steven Gonzalez, Latisha Perkins, and Dawaune Allen all previously admitted their guilt in Federal court for the roles they played in related sex trafficking violations. Several of the co-conspirators had ties to the 52 Red Mob Gang set, a Tulsa street gang.
Beginning in late December 2015, Harring conspired with his girlfriend, Morgan Palmer, and others to recruit girls under the age of 18 to perform commercial sex acts at various Tulsa motels. On January 4, 2016, Tulsa Police Department Vice Unit officers encountered a 16-year-old victim during an undercover operation in which TPD responded to an online advertisement on Backpage.com. Shortly thereafter, officers identified and arrested Harring for his role in the sex trafficking operation.
Despite Harring’s arrest, Vice Unit officers determined from their investigation that the sex trafficking conspiracy was still ongoing and conducted a second undercover operation targeting a related Backpage ad. On January 19, 2016, TPD Vice Unit officers arrested Palmer, who had continued the child sex trafficking operation from her apartment at The Enclave near Brookside in midtown Tulsa. In total, officers identified three minors who had been victimized by Harring’s child sex trafficking venture. A fourth minor victim was identified in a related child sex trafficking operation involving Latisha Perkins and Dawaune Allen.
Harring’s plea agreement sets forth an agreed upon sentence of twenty-two years in Federal prison, where parole has been abolished. His sentencing hearing is set for May 11, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
The Tulsa Police Department investigated this case with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys R. Trent Shores and Andrew J. Hofland prosecuted this matter on behalf of the United States.
“Human traffickers prey on vulnerable teenagers in our community and exploit them for their personal profit by selling them in the commercial sex trade. I commend the Tulsa Police Department’s Vice Unit for their excellent work in investigating this matter,” stated United States Attorney Williams.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”