Lamar 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

Lamar County is located in southern Mississippi, and as of the 2020 census, its population was approximately 63,000. The county’s government seat is the city of Purvis.  Part of the city of Hattiesburg also lies within Lamar County (most is within Forrest County), and part of the city of Lumberton is within the county (the remainder is in Pearl River County). Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the cities and unincorporated areas of the county. 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, which has been well-documented in the Hattiesburg area for decades, and has included child sex trafficking kidnapping, drugs, and weapons offenses related to sex trade transactions. November, 2021, the Mississippi Attorney General announced the successful conclusion of ten days of human trafficking operations across the State. Participating in the operations were the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office, and some of the operations occurred in the Hattiesburg area. In total, investigators encountered 49 potential victims; made 13 arrests for crimes including human trafficking, promoting prostitution, and statutory rape; and uncovered multiple leads that could result in additional arrests and victim recoveries. Operations were conducted between November 1st and 10th in Hattiesburg, as well as in Southaven, Starkville, Jackson, Meridian, and in Harrison and Jackson Counties.

The Purvis Police Department has participated in demand reduction operations as a member of the Pine Belt Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.  For example, in December, 2019, six men were arrested and charged during an operation in nearby 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.

Within the city of Purvis, demand reduction tactics have been employed.  For example, in September, 2022, the board of directors for the Homes of Hope for Children announced it had terminated the employment of its Founder and Director after he was arrested and charged with possession of illegal drugs and procuring prostitution. He had been arrested on two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one charge of procuring prostitution. He was arrested again two days later and charged with another drug possession offense. The man had been arrested by Columbia police and he was booked into the Marion County Correctional Facility. His identity was publicly disclosed. The organization he founded operates a number of homes on a remote compound where house parents care for up to eight foster children in each home.

Key Partners

  • Lamar County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lamar County District Attorney’s Office
  • Hattiesburg Police Department
  • Pine Belt Area Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Purvis Police Department
  • Mississippi Bureau of Investigation
  • Mississippi Department of Corrections
  • 12th District Narcotics Enforcement Team
  • Homes of Hope for Children

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Loss of Employment, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:

State Mississippi
Type County
Population 62693
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