Harrison County is located in southern Mississippi, and has a population of about 200,000. Its largest cities are Biloxi and Gulfport. Prostitution activity, including cases of alleged sex trafficking of adults and minors and assaults on individuals selling sex, has been reported in the county for decades. Businesses and residents lodge complaints about prostitution to police, and federal authorities have investigated cases of illegal immigrants being harbored in the county for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. The Sheriff’s Office often collaborates with local police departments to conduct reverse stings, and local police have also conducted such operations independently. For example, the Biloxi Police Department has conducted street-level and web-based stings that resulted in the arrest of multiple men. In October 1995, BPD officers staged a street-level operation using a female undercover officer as a decoy, and intercepted 23 johns after the men attempted to purchase sex from her. In November, 2009, seventeen people were arrested for charges involving drugs and prostitution in a large-scale operation involving police agencies from all along the gulf coast and targeted escort service and individuals listed on Craigslist. The agencies involved included the Biloxi Police, as well as the police departments of D’Iberville, Gulfport Police, and Ocean Springs, the Sheriff’s Offices of Jackson County and Harrison County, and the multi-jurisdictional Jackson County Narcotics Task Force All arrested agreed to sexual acts in exchange for money once they met undercover officers. In June, 2012, Biloxi police arrested thirteen people in a prostitution sting. Seven men and six women were taken into custody for prostitution or solicitation, including men who drove the women to meet clients at a hotel. Several also faced misdemeanor drug charges. Gulfport police have conducted street-level reverse stings eight to nine times per year, on average, since 1992. They began conducting web-based stings in 2001, and conduct them about once per year. In 2006, they began shaming johns.
- Harrison County Sheriff’s Office
- Biloxi Police Department
- Gulfport Police Department
- Jackson County Sheriff’s Department
- Jackson County Narcotics Task Force
National Assessment Survey
Reverse Stings and Shaming:
- “Beach Sting Ends with 13 Arrests”, Biloxi Sun Herald, May 23 2003.
- “Officers Pose as Prostitutes to Nab Johns; Citizen Complaints Result in Sex Sting on Gulfport Beach”, Biloxi Sun Herald, May 24 2003.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 13 Arrests”, Baton Rouge Advocate, May 25 2003.
- “Coast Men Face Sex Charges; Arrests Made at Gulfport Nature Trail”, Biloxi Sun Herald, November 30 2003.
- “10 Johns Arrested, Gulfport Police Cracking Down”, Biloxi Sun Herald, October 18 2007.
- “Prostitution Operation Nets 19”, Biloxi Sun Herald, December 4 2007.
- “Principal Arrested in Sting”, Hattiesburg American, April 15 2009.
- “Suspect in Sex Sting Resigns at School”, Biloxi Sun Herald, April 15 2009.
- “Petal Man Arrested in Undercover Prostitution Sting”, Hattiesburg American, April 25 2009.
- “Undercover Operation Nets 25 Arrests”, Biloxi Sun Herald, June 16 2009.
Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Online Sex Ads Lead Biloxi Police to Suspects”, CBS/WLOX-DT 2, March 28 2013.
- https://www.sunherald.com/news/local/crime/ (2018)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Vice Is Reported Rampant in Mississippi”, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, February 2 1965.
- “Gulfport Strip Club Yields to Police Raid; Officers Cite Evidence of Undress, Lewd Acts”, Biloxi Sun Herald, December 1 1995.
- “Escort Plan Faces Scrutiny; Gulfport Zoning Laws May Not Cover Business”, Biloxi Sun Herald, July 16 1996.
- “Police: Prostitution Thriving on Coast; Escort Owners Harder to Nail”, Biloxi Sun Herald, June 14 2002.
- “Neighborhood Watch Leads to 14 Prostitution Arrests”, CBS/WLOX-DT 2, May 23 2007.
- “Gulfport Prostitution Sting Sweeps Sex, Drugs Off Streets”, CBS/WLOX-DT 2, March 25 2008.
- “Police Arrest 13 in Prostitution Sting”, Biloxi Sun Herald, September 26 2008.
- “Prostitution Sting Catches 12 Women; Man Arrested on Solicitation Charge”, Biloxi Sun Herald, September 27 2008.
- “Gulfport Seeks to Close Two ‘Nuisance’ Businesses”, CBS/WLOX-DT 2, July 23 2009.
- “Two Arrested in Sting at Osaka Spa”, Biloxi Sun Herald, July 25 2009.
- “Sting Targets Drug Dealers, Prostitutes”, Biloxi Sun Herald, July 28 2009.
- https://www.sunherald.com/news/local/crime/article171580827.html (2017)
- https://www.magnoliastatelive.com/teen-sex-trafficking-victim-rescued-returned-to-mississippi-family/ (2019)
- https://newsms.fm/four-arrested-for-human-trafficking-prostitution/ (2019)
- https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/3-new-arrests-sex-trafficking-operation (2019)
- https://www.wlox.com/neighborhood-watch-leads-to-14-prostitution-arrests/ (2019)