Meridian Star

July 31, 2013

Dozens arrested in sex trafficking case


Associated Press

JACKSON —

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Law enforcement agencies in the Jackson metropolitan area have made dozens of arrests as part of the FBI's roundup of underage prostitutes and human sex traffickers.

On Tuesday, bond was set in Rankin County court for three men charged with human trafficking.

Christopher Jermaine Armstrong, 28, of Hattiesburg; James Edward Williams Jr., 27, and William Charles Toliver, 48, both of Jackson, appeared before Rankin County Court Judge Kent McDaniel.

Toliver faces two counts of human trafficking, and Williams and Armstrong are each charged with one count of human trafficking and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Armstrong was denied bond because of a probation violation. Bond was set at $10,000 for Williams and at $50,000 for Toliver.

Rankin County made a total of 14 arrests.

The stings this past week in Jackson took place at different hotels on the Interstate 55 corridor. Eight people were arrested.

Two men — Square Jefferson, 24, and Gerald Knight, 25 — were charged with aiding and abetting prostitution, or pimping, which is a felony.

Four others were charged with prostitution, including a 17-year-old girl. Two others were charged with possession of cocaine.

The investigation stings in Ridgeland took place two hotels.

Twelve people were taken into custody, including four people arrested for promoting prostitution. They include Adrian Harris, 26, Travis Minor, 29, Jasmine Taylor, 20, and Randy Roberts, 29. They are all from Jackson.

Ridgeland Police Lt. John Neal said Taylor and a woman with her, who was charged with prostitution, both had children with them at the time.

"Each of them had their two small children with them. There was one that was four years old, the other that was two years old in the car while her mother was up offering services," Neal said.

Neal said the children were released to family members.

Neal said those charged with prostitution were from across the country.

"In some follow up interviews with some that were arrested, we had some from as far away as California that were arrested, some from Georgia that were here, we had several local girls from the Jackson area as well as other parts of Mississippi," Neal said.

Neal said a few seemed to part of a prostitution ring. He said others appeared to be operating on their own.

The number of alleged pimps arrested in Mississippi was fifth-highest in the nation behind the FBI divisions in Detroit (18), San Francisco (17), Atlanta (17) and Oklahoma City (13).