Twenty-three people were arrested throughout a days-long investigation into identifying human trafficking and prostitution within and around the Jackson area.
WJTV 12’s Shay O’Connor looks at the state’s only clinic designed to help victims of human trafficking and how other cities are cracking down on efforts as well.
During the week of July, 22 authorities with Hinds County Sheriff Department and Clinton Police Department focused on identifying human trafficking and prostitution, particularly in Jackson and along i-20.
As a result, 23 arrests were made.
With charges ranging from prostitution to procuring the services of prostitution to drug possession.
One man Corey Myers was charged with enticement of a child to meet for sexual purposes.
Executive Director for the Center of Violence Prevention Sandy Middleton, which runs the tower, the only shelter within the state of Mississippi that works specifically with victims of human trafficking says there is a difference between human trafficking and prostitution.
“Human Trafficking is modern-day slavery. If it’s an adult they have to be forced or coerced into committing these sexual acts. There certainly is a difference between if a victim is seeking help or if a victim wants to cooperate with a human trafficking prosecution.”
We are told the victims and suspects arrested were from all around the country, Middleton says this is a step in the right direction, considering how much of a growing issue human trafficking is.
Chief of Police for Pearl Dean Scott says, “With cases like the most recent one, it’s important that the public and law enforcement be made aware of how to spot cases of human trafficking.”
“We have a lot of support from our community from our city leaders to combat the problem. With Ms. Middleton, she’s helped us train officers. Now I have one that specifically deals with it. To working the sex stop crimes. It’s been very successful. I’m proud of what we’ve done.”
Pearl is not the only city within Mississippi training law enforcement officers on how to spot sex crimes.
Authorities say there is a need for more.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the Center for Violence Prevention or your local law enforcement.