For Immediate Release
Kansas Man Convicted for Sex Trafficking in Oklahoma
TULSA Okla. – A Wichita, Kansas, man was convicted on nine criminal charges for conducting a sex trafficking operation that spanned four states.
A federal jury deliberated approximately 2 hours before convicting Byron Cordell Thomas, 36, for sex trafficking; transporting an individual for prostitution; witness tampering by corrupt persuasion; and felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
“The victims in this case were beaten, isolated, and trafficked across state lines for prostitution. They suffered threats and intimidation from Thomas, even throughout the investigation, said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “I want to thank our law enforcement partners for their lengthy and solid investigation of this case, and the victims for their brave testimony that made this conviction possible.”
“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and our law enforcement partners work tirelessly to ensure human traffickers face justice for their heinous crimes,” said Robert Melton, Assistant Special Agent in Charge HSI Dallas’ Oklahoma and Texas Panhandle Division. “This verdict is proof of our commitment to protect victims from further harm.”
Thomas targeted young females suffering financial difficulties who had little to no support. He advertised himself as a “street advisor” and promised to help women make money as part of his team, or “stable,” but kept the money for himself. Thomas would isolate women, transport them under false pretenses to another state, and refuse to provide return transportation until the women earned a set amount of money through prostitution.
Thomas, who carried a gun, was physically violent with some of the women but primarily achieved control by force, threats of force, fraud, and coercion, including varying degrees of emotional, physiological, and financial control.
Thomas maintained hotel rooms in Tulsa; Oklahoma City; Dallas, Texas; Bossier City, Louisiana; and Wichita, Kansas, for harboring the victims and conducting his trafficking and prostitution operation. One victim told officers that Thomas and another victim picked her up in Topeka, Kansas and drove her to Tulsa where she was forced into prostitution and not allowed to leave.
Thomas used and taught the victims to use cell phones and social media to promote themselves, communicate with clients, and conduct business. Investigators located messages and pictures used in various online prostitution ads over several states.
Further, Thomas used deception and took steps to insulate himself in an attempt to conceal the prostitution from law enforcement and avoid prosecution. He would make his main prostitute, referred to as a “bottom,” train new prostitutes on how to act with clients, screen for law enforcement, and make money. He pressured women to get tattoos, referred to as “branding,” with his street name of “B$.” One of his “bottoms had the tattoo on her neck.
He would also instruct the women engaged in prostitution to give false information to law enforcement. Later he intimidated and threatened the victims to influence, delay, and prevent testimony in criminal proceedings. Thomas and others he recruited have harassed victims and pressured them to change their statements.
Homeland Security Investigations, Tulsa Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from Kansas and Texas law enforcement agencies conducted the investigation.
Thomas faces up to 35 years in federal prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth Elmore and Shakema Onias prosecuted the case.
To report suspected human trafficking to Federal law enforcement call 1-866-347-2423.