DeSoto County, 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

DeSoto County is located on the northwest border of Mississippi, and has a population of approximately 182,000. Its county seat is the city of Hernando. DeSoto County is part of the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area. Among its other notable communities is Southaven, a city of approximately 50,000 residents, situated in the southern suburbs of Memphis. Prostitution has been identified by police and others as generating a wide range of problems in the area, including sex buyers responding to online ads being shot and robbed.  Sex trafficking is also well-documented locally.  For example, in 2017, police in Hernando charged a man with contributing to human trafficking after Memphis Police released a BOLO for him, in response to allegations that the victim was drugged and nearly forced into prostitution by the suspect. A teenage victim had sent pictures to her mother letting her know the suspect’s appearance and what kind of car he was driving. That description was sent out to agencies across the Mid-South, which led Hernando officers to make the arrest. In August, 2022, an undercover human trafficking sting led to the arrest of two men and the identities of four victims. One man was charged with six counts of promoting prostitution and attempted aggravated assault on a peace officer. Another was charged with human trafficking of a minor, and child exploitation. The four victims were referred to victims services. The operation was conducted by the Human Trafficking Unit of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, in collaboration with the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department, Prentiss County Sheriff’s Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Mississippi Department of Corrections, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Restore Corps Memphis, and the Center for Violence Prevention.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. The Southaven Police Department has conducted at least three web-based reverse stings using undercover officers, in an effort to reduce consumer-level demand. Arrested sex buyers have also had their identities reported in the media and often face fines. In November, 2017, a member of the Southaven Board of Alderman was arrested by the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office and booked into the county jail on charges related to procuring prostitution. He had communicated with a woman and promised her money in exchange for sex.

Key Partners

  • Southaven Police Department
  • DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mississippi Bureau of Investigation

Key Sources

Arrest of Sex Buyer, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Mississippi
Type County
Population 182256
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