Two U.S. attorneys in Mississippi are leading the formation of a statewide human trafficking council. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst oversees the Southern District of Mississippi. He calls Human Trafficking a scourge on society.
"Just recently we prosecuted an individual here in the City of Jackson who purchased a 15-year old girl to put in the sex trafficking trade, and most recently this office prosecuted an individual who had brought a girl from Tennessee into Mississippi and specifically pimped her out on the internet," said Hurst.
Hurst says last year the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 86 calls from Mississippi, more than double the number of the year before. Hurst and his counterpart for the Northern District, U.S. Attorney Chad Lamar, are launching the Mississippi Human Trafficking Council. Assistant Attorney General with the U.S. Department of Justice Eric Dreiband, is in Jackson to support the effort.
"The Civil Rights Division and its Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit are prepared to stand with you every step of the way, as is the President himself and the Attorney General," said Dreiband.
The council is made up of federal and state agencies like the department of public safety, the attorney general's office, legislators, and non-profit organizations. They're on task forces charged with combing over every aspect of the issue and finding solutions. Hollie Jeffrey is with the Children's Advocacy Center of Mississippi.
"I love that we're coming together as a large multi-disciplinary team to address all the issues and to make sure all the investigative pieces are there, that all the victim services pieces are there," said Jeffrey.
U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst says they'll also focus on educating the public, medical providers and law enforcement on the signs someone may be a victim of human trafficking.