From the Clarion Ledger 3/08/15:
A report estimates 90 cases of child sex trafficking have been identified in Hinds, Madison, Rankin and Warren counties.
Meanwhile, a task force on human sex trafficking created by Gov. Phil Bryant is to make its own report by July 1.
“There has been a couple successful prosecutions, and we will see more and more prosecutions as law enforcement become more trained to recognize human sex trafficking,” said Sandy Middleton, a task force member and director of the Mississippi Center for Violence Prevention.
Middleton said the task force has met three times. One of its priorities, she said, will be assuring that both short- and long-term services for victims are available.
A study released last week by Beautiful Ones Ministries Inc. and Belhaven University said an estimated 90 child sex trafficking victims had been identified in Hinds, Madison, Rankin and Warren counties.
The report said the most common form of child sex trafficking is done by family members in exchange for money or drugs.
Rusty Barnes, executive director of the state Office of Homeland Security, said human trafficking can be difficult to identify. “It’s a serious crime that often is forgotten, even though we know it is happening.”
Barnes said human sex trafficking is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the world.
Middleton said victims have included girls sold by their parents for drugs and rent money and a woman sold to a truck driver in another state for $4,000. She escaped at a truck stop in Jackson.
Often, human trafficking victims are sold into prostitution, law enforcement officials say.
In January, a Jackson man pleaded guilty to human trafficking in Madison County Circuit Court. Montavious Cortez Warner was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He had been accused of pimping a 16-year-old girl in Ridgeland.
Contact Jimmie E. Gates at (601) 961-7212 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @jgatesnews on Twitter.