Two Skiatook men and one Sperry man were arrested after an FBI led investigation called Operation Independence Day.

Operation Independence Day focused on locating missing minors who were at risk of sexual exploitation.

More than 400 law enforcement agencies working on FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces in each of the Bureau’s 56 field offices worked together for this operation. The sweep included undercover operations and led to the opening of five dozen federal criminal investigations according to the FBI website. Agents and analysts at FBI Headquarters and in the field worked closely with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to identify young runaways, missing kids, and juveniles who may have been subjected to human trafficking.

The task forces included federal, state, local, and tribal partners, with efforts in every state and some U.S. territories.

In all, 103 juveniles were identified or recovered and 67 suspected traffickers were arrested. The sweep resulted in 60 new federal investigations the FBI website said.

“The FBI is fiercely focused on recovering child victims and arresting the sex traffickers who exploit them,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. “Through operations like this, the FBI helps child victims escape the abusive life of sex trafficking.”

“Our agents, intelligence analysts,

professional staff, and victim specialists work tirelessly before, during, and after these operations to make sure that victims get the help they need to reclaim their lives,” Wray said.

U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said during a news conference, “I think these cases are an important reminder of the ease with which child predators have access to our children, have access to our families. Virtually any social media application, any website, any community gaming forum that your children may participate in could make them vulnerable, could give a child predator access. I don’t say this to strike fear, but I say this to ensure parents and children have that open line of communication.”

“I have zero tolerance for child predators and will use every tool available to identify and prosecute them. They will feel the full weight of law. Child victims will be given a voice. Justice for these victims will be our constant pursuit,” said Shores. “Operation Independence Day was a success because of the multi-jurisdictional partnerships who came together in common cause and mission. For that, I am grateful, and I know that children in northern Oklahoma are safer as a result.”

Ten people are being prosecuted in Tulsa County including the two men from Skiatook and one man from Sperry.

Christopher Cervantes, 48, of Skiatook: attempted coercion and enticement of a minor

Thomas Dustin Daughtry, 42, of Sperry: sexual exploitation of a child, possession of child pornography and coercion and enticement.

Carnell Lovette Matthews, 43, of Tulsa: attempted coercion and enticement of a minor

Casey Adam Parker, 39, of Afton: attempted coercion and enticement of a minor

Jason Ray Smith, 40, of Sapulpa: attempted coercion and enticement of a minor

Carl Thomas Spaeth, 35, of Broken Arrow: attempted coercion and enticement of a minor

Lucas Shane Vann, 18, of Salina: sexual exploitation of a child

Corey Daniel Vessar, 30, of Skiatook: attempted coercion and enticement of a minor

Thomas Kyle Williams, 40, of Sand Springs: attempted coercion and enticement of a minor; receipt of child pornography; possession of child pornography

Operation Independence Day 2019 Final Statistics

Minor Victims Recovered: 82

Minor Victims Identified: 21

Adult Victims Encountered: 39

Traffickers Arrested: 67

Nationwide Operations Conducted: 161

Federal Cases Initiated: 60

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E-mail lindsey.chastain@skiatookjournal.com

Managing Editor

Lindsey is the managing editor for the Skiatook Journal. She holds an M.A in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. Prior to the start of her news career in 2011, Renuard was a professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma.