Meridian, 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

Meridian city is the county seat of Lauderdale County, Mississippi; its population is approximately 37,000. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. For example, in October 2017, a weekend drug investigation by the East Mississippi Drug Task Force resulted in a pair of women arrested for prostitution at a hotel in Meridian, off Interstate 20/59. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result 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. For example, in September 2019, seven suspects were arrested in connection with a prostitution ring in the region. This bust was a multi-agency cooperation in fighting sex crimes that had the potential to escalate into human trafficking. Because of the volume of sex-crime activity throughout the region, undercover operations targeting prostitution and human trafficking could occur every night, according to one Forrest County Sheriff’s Capt. and a member of the Pine Belt Anti-Human-Trafficking Taskforce. The Forrest County Sheriff’s Captain stated that prostitution and trafficking can occur not just in Hattiesburg but in every city. The range of the sex trafficking operation stretched from Jackson to Mobile, Alabama, with traffickers leaving Jackson and stopping along the way, including Meridian, Laurel, and Hattiesburg, going over to Mobile, Alabama, and then in the Mississippi Gulf Coast and back up to Jackson. Prostituted and trafficked persons were part of the rotation. In November 2021, four people were arrested and charged in Meridian after a prostitution and sex trafficking operation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, Meridian Police Department, and several other agencies. Authorities said they found eight potential victims, all of whom were offered assistance. They arrested four people on charges of promoting prostitution, statutory rape, human trafficking, and felony drug possession.

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. Demand reduction tactics used in the town include the arrest of sex buyers and the public disclosure of their identities. In April 2010, the Meridian Police Department reported the arrest of a man for Soliciting Prostitution.

Key Partners

  • Meridian Police Department
  • Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department
  • East Mississippi Drug Task Force
State Mississippi
Type City
Population 37252
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