Eight individuals, all from outside Stone County, were arrested last Thursday in a prostitution sting conducted by the Pine Belt Human Trafficking Task Force.
The task force, of which the Wiggins Police Department is a member, set up shop at a local motel and took into custody those who set up encounters on an internet page.
“One of the individuals traveled all the way from Tylertown because he believed he was going to have sex with a 14-year-old,” said investigator Steven Taylor with the WPD.
That individual, 54-year-old Michael Grubbs, was charged with felony enticement of a child for sex.
Two others were also charged with felonies.
Tacuma Burt, a 44-year-old, and Anthony Ronayne, 30, were charged with felony promoting of prostitution. Both men are residents of Gulfport.
Jasmine Patton of Biloxi, 31, Sakeenal Shannon, 22, and Guadalupe Laborde, 36, were all charged with misdemeanor prostitution while
Shannon and Laborde are from Gulfport.
David Therrien, a 31-year-old, and Jarrod Alexander, a 36-year-old, were charged with misdemeanor procuring prostitution. Both men are from Bay St. Louis.
“Over the past several years, government and law enforcement have been waking up to the widespread reality of human trafficking,” Taylor said. “There’s no shortage of web sites where people can set up meetings with people involved in it.
“As soon as one gets shut down, several more pop up.”
In addition to the WPD, Homeland Security, Mississippi Department of Corrections, Forrest County Sheriff’s Department, 12th District Narcotics Enforcement Team, Purvis Police Department Waveland Police Department, Hinds County Sheriff’s Department, Meridian School Campus Police and the Forrest County Drug Court are members of the task force.
Volunteers and logistical support to the task force are provided by Klaas Kids and The Center for Violence Prevention.