OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today announced the multicounty grand jury has indicted Joel French, 40, with 10 counts of human trafficking after jurors heard evidence from his victims.
French was arrested on Dec. 1 after an investigation by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Human Trafficking Unit (OBN) received a tip from a confidential source that he had been running a large-scale sex trafficking operation for years.
“Human trafficking is a despicable criminal industry that is a growing threat in Oklahoma and around the world,” Attorney General Hunter said. “It leaves lifelong psychological and physical toll on victims if they are lucky enough to get out alive. This indictment will hopefully send a strong message that law enforcement isn’t going to tolerate this kind of activity in Oklahoma. I appreciate the thorough investigation by the OBN and the grand jurors who heard testimony on the case and returning the indictment. We look forward to presenting this case in court.”
According to court documents, French recruited females online and would prostitute them through deception, fraud, force, threat or coercion. He would then post advertisements online for their services.
French would also fraudulently obtain apartment leases for the females by providing fake information, including pay stubs and prior residences throughout the Oklahoma City metro, where he would schedule men to meet them for sex acts.
“I am extremely proud of the tireless work over the past several months by Agents within our Human Trafficking Unit to build this case against French and secure the safety of young women who were victimized within his organization,” said OBN Director Donnie Anderson. “Human Trafficking is an insidious crime that often targets the innocent and vulnerable. My agency is committed to aggressively identifying and removing these predators and their organizations operating in our state.”
He is currently being held at the Oklahoma County Jail on $1 million bond.
All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Oklahoma County case number is MI-2020-1269.
If individuals suspect human trafficking in their communities or have more information on this case, authorities encourage them to call the OBN’s Human Trafficking Hotline at (855)617-2288.