Harrison County, MS

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

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.

 

Key Partners

  • Harrison County Sheriff’s Office
  • Biloxi Police Department
  • Gulfport Police Department
  • Jackson County Sheriff’s Department
  • Jackson County Narcotics Task Force

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey

Reverse Stings and Shaming:

Sex Trafficking in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

 

State Mississippi
Type County
Population 205027
Location
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