HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Data shows that there were 86 human trafficking cases reported in Mississippi in 2018, according to the national human trafficking hotline. Sex trafficking was the highest number on the chart.
Wedneday was a day filled with informational sessions on the topic at the University of Southern Mississippi. An education and training session to discuss human trafficking and ways to combat it was held inside the Trent Lott Center on USM’s campus.
The event was sponsored by the USM University Police Department, the Hattiesburg Police Department, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
We caught up with U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Mississippi, Mike Hurst, who said human trafficking continues to grow in the Magnolia State.
“In 2017, it’s reported that we had 46 cases of human trafficking in the state of Mississippi," Hurst said. “And one year later in 2018, that had more than doubled to 86 cases. So it’s becoming an even more growing problem.”
We talked with participants and among law enforcement who attended the event.
Lieutenant Latosha Myers-Mitchell from HPD is apart of the Forrest County Human Trafficking Task Force. Myers-Mitchell said she has dealt directly with victims and suspects of human trafficking while working on the task force.
“Actually one of our operations we’ve encountered someone that has been in different states, surrounding states in Alabama and in Florida and in Texas,” said Myers-Mitchell.
Agencies and nonprofits providing presentations for this training session included those from the following:
- Mississippi Human Trafficking Coordinator
- Center of Violence Prevention
- Mississippi Child Protection Services
- Department of Homeland Security
- Federal Bureau of Investigations
- Mississippi Bureau of Investigations
- Gulf-Coast Center of Non-violence
- Children’s Advocacy Center
- U.S. Attorney’s Office
- Mississippi Attorney General’s Office
- Association of District Attorneys
If you are a victim or a suspect of Human Trafficking please call the state attorney general’s human trafficking coordinator at 1-800-829-6766.
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888.
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, state law requires anyone who suspects that a person under 18 is being trafficked to report it to the Mississippi Department of Human Services. Call 1-800-222-8000.