Prostitution ring busted in joint investigation
Published 3:33 pm Monday, August 24, 2015
A local woman faces a felony charge for being the “madam” in an online prostitution service after local and state law enforcement officers conducted a joint sting Friday night.
According to the Oxford Police Department, initial investigations and information gathering for the undercover task force began back in winter 2014. Investigators with OPD gathered information concerning a series of criminal events that occurred over a period of time and worked to connect the incidents to electronic advertisements for prostitution.
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“We’ve had a lot of incidents in the last year, drugs and assault, that were connected to this type of lifestyle,” said OPD Chief Joey East this morning.
OPD contacted the FBI and the Attorney General’s Office and with the help of the Oxford-Lafayette Metro Narcotics Unit, the task force came together and on Friday conducted a sting operation at a local hotel.
Four women were arrested; however, three are being charged with misdemeanor counts of prostitution and names were not released. Oxford resident Santana Hervey, age unavailable, was arrested and charged with promotion of prostitution, which is a felony charge.
The suspects were part of an online escort service.
“While four arrests may seem like a small number, citizens need to know that this specific criminal activity can be related back to domestic violence, assaults, robberies and illegal narcotic activity. It is not simply the exchange of money for sex,” East said. “This is just the first operation in an ongoing investigation that will continue until I am confident that we have done our very best to ensure the safety of our citizens so that our town continues to be the family friendly and retiree attracting destination that it truly is.”
East said not all of the women were from Oxford who were charged with the misdemeanor counts. “This is more than just prostitution, it involves human trafficking,” he said. “Minors can get involved and that’s not something we want happening.”
During the sting, police officers posed as the “Johns,” said East, but he did not reveal any more details since it is still an ongoing investigation.