Columbia, MS

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings
Columbia serves as the county seat of Marion County, Mississippi, and had a population of approximately 5,900 at the 2020 census. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding region. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses.  Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, local agencies have conducted reverse stings, sometimes in larger operations that also were designed to rescue victims and apprehend traffickers. For example, ihe Pine Belt Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force arrested charged six men during an operation in Columbia.  The operation targeted suspects who were attempting to exploit or entice children for sexual purposes, “solicit prostitutes,” and possibly identify victims of human trafficking.  Two men were charged with enticement of a child to meet for sexual purposes. Four others were charged with misdemeanor “procuring prostitution.”  Law enforcement agencies that participated in the operation were the Columbia Police Department, Department of Homeland Security, Mississippi Department of Corrections, Forrest County Sheriff’s Office, 12th District Narcotics Enforcement Team, Purvis Police Department, Waveland Police Department, Hinds County Sheriff’s Office and Meridian Public Schools Campus Police.

In August, 2020, seven people were arrested and others are investigated in Columbia for their involvement in an alleged child exploitation and human trafficking operation. The Columbia Police Department’s Major Crimes Division and Crime Suppression Team conducted “Operation Dollhouse Friday.” The operation included two phases. The first phase to target individuals with intent to meet children for sexual abuse purposes. The second phase searching for individuals allegedly involved in human trafficking and rescuing girls from “forced prostitution” (i.e., sex trafficking). Several men were charged with “enticement of a child to meet for sexual purposes” and “disseminating sexually oriented materials to persons under 18.” Another was charged with enticement of a child to meet for sexual purposes and is being held at the Marion County Jail with a $70,000 cash bond. Three other men were charged with misdemeanor procuring prosecution and released after being issued a citation, pending a municipal trial.
In September, 2022, eight suspects were arrested in Columbia in an undercover sting operation targeting those who provided money to sex traffickers in the form of purchasing prostitution. Seven men were charged with “procuring prostitution” and their identities were publicly disclosed. The Columbia Police Department, with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, Homeland Security Investigation and Mississippi Department of Corrections, executed the operation, which was named “Operation Washout.” Other charges included possession of controlled substances, including methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs.

Key Partners

  • Pine Belt Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Columbia Police Department
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Mississippi Department of Corrections
  • Forrest County Sheriff’s Office
  • 12th District Narcotics Enforcement Team
  • Purvis Police Department
  • Waveland Police Department
  • Hinds County Sheriff’s Office
  • Meridian Public Schools Campus Police
State Mississippi
Type City
Population 5940
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