July 31, 2013
Law enforcement in Hinds and Rankin counties and in the cities of Jackson, Ridgeland, and Pearl worked together with the FBI, the Mississippi Attorney General's office and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics to rescue victims of sex trafficking in Mississippi and bring traffickers to justice.
The local action was part of Operation Cross Country VII, a three-day enforcement action to address commercial child sex trafficking throughout the United States that encompassed 76 cities.
A 17-year-old Mississippi girl was among the 105 children rescued in the sting. The Jackson-area operation included the arrests of 10 pimps. Officials have charged 24 others "with related state and local offenses," the FBI stated in a release.
“Child prostitution is a threat to children not just in other countries, but across America and right here in Mississippi,” said Daniel McMullen, special agent in charge of the FBI in Mississippi. “This operation serves as a reminder that the FBI and its partners in law enforcement remain committed to identifying and rescuing any child who is being victimized in this heinous enterprise.”
Rankin County saw a total of 14 arrests, and charged three men with human trafficking: Christopher Jermaine Armstrong, 28, of Hattiesburg and James Edward Williams Jr., 27, and William Charles Toliver, 48, both of Jackson. Tolliver faces two trafficking counts while Armstrong and Williams are each charged with one count of trafficking and marijuana possession.
Jackson authorities arrested eight people. Among them are Square Jefferson, 24, and Gerald Knight, 25, who are charged with aiding and abetting prostitution--pimping--a felony.
In Ridgeland, the sting netted 12, including four Jackson residents arrested for promoting prostitution: Adrian Harris, 26; Travis Minor, 29; Randy Roberts, 29; and Jasmine Taylor, 20.
Ridgeland Police Lt. John Neal told the Associated Press that Taylor and a second woman both had children with them at the time of their arrests. Police charged the other woman with prostitution.
"Each of them had their two small children with them. There was one that was four years old, the other that was two years old in the car while her mother was up offering services," Neal said.
The number of alleged pimps arrested in Mississippi was fifth-highest in the nation, the AP reported, behind the FBI divisions in Detroit (18), San Francisco (17), Atlanta (17) and Oklahoma City (13).
To learn more about Operation Cross Country and the Innocence Lost National Initiative, visit http://www.fbi.gov">www.fbi.gov, http://www.justice.gov">www.justice.gov, or http://www.ncmec.org">www.ncmec.org.