The FBI along with law enforcement from local and state agencies rescued two 17- year old girls involved in sex trafficking in Madison and Hinds Counties. Officers arrested four adults connected with the teens in a crackdown called "Operation Cross Country." I talked about it with FBI-Special Agent-in-Charge, Donald Alway.
"So are these pimps? They are. So those four in questions, that's what the allegations are. That they're actively directing children to participate in sex trafficking," said Alway.
The focus of the national effort is to rescue children who are being sold as sex slaves by area gangs and pimps.
"So it's various methods of coercion, control, kidnapping, assault. Some of these kids are runaways. Some are exploited unfortunately, by family members," said Alway.
Alway says officers hit the streets in Madison, Hinds and Warren Counties, targeting places like truck stops, casinos, motels and websites. Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker told me how the internet is used to solicit customers.
"Are these sex sites? You know some are and some are just typical social media sites, where wording and phrasing is used in an advertisement, 'call me', 'let's go out', 'let's have a drink,' 'let's have fun.' " said Tucker.
Alway says one teen showed up at a Ridgeland motel after an undercover officer saw her ad posted online. The other girl was a runaway located by Clinton Police officers and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Agents. Officers also arrested 22 people on charges ranging from soliciting prostitution to child endangerment and possession of a firearm.