Breaking News
More () »

'They are saving lives' | DeSoto County Sheriff's Department honored for work fighting human trafficking

The Center for Violence Prevention honored the department Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, for “going above and beyond” in fighting trafficking.

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss — The DeSoto County Sheriff's Department Special Investigations Division (S.I.D.) is being honored for its work combating human trafficking. These investigators are trained to screen, recognize, and act the problem.

The Center for Violence Prevention presented the department with its Angel Award Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, for “going above and beyond” in fighting trafficking.

“So, we typically don’t publicize all the things that these guys are doing. They do special investigations. It’s clandestine operations and undercover operations. That’s why you’re not seeing their faces on camera today,” said Chief Deputy Justin Smith with DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department.

“They are saving lives. This is one of the rare instances that you can actually see lives being saved on a daily basis by the actions of the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department,” said Bob Morris, District Attorney for the 23rd Judicial District.

“They have been aggressive working the cases. They have rescued multiple victims. Both minors and adults,” said Sandy Middleton, Executive Director of the Center for Violence Prevention. “They have located and recovered 13 adult victims just since August of last year. So, we haven’t seen that number anywhere else in the state. And because of that and the fact that they have 12 human trafficking investigators proves that they know how to do the work.”

“Some of the things that they have done are hitting the news in recent history. You guys know how dangerous this can be. We had a deputy who was nearly run over and had to discharge his firearm at a suspect who was actually participating in human trafficking at that time,” said Chief Deputy Smith.

“Part of what this unit has done is educate people to be aware of who is in the vehicle and what needs to be done to protect them. Because so many times they’re passing through and it’s the only opportunity we get to save lives,” said Morris.

Human trafficking is everywhere. They said it’s a problem in all cities – big and small.

“It’s a hub of industry. It’s a hub of traffic. We are on the major thoroughfares and arteries. Many of the people that we are arresting and prosecuting for trafficking do not reside here. They are coming from Louisiana or Texas or Alabama, and we are catching them on the interstates or the highways,” said Morris.

To learn more about the fight against human trafficking – and how to help, go to https://www.msc4vp.org/.

Before You Leave, Check This Out