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Couple convicted of human trafficking

A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi convicted two people Tuesday for transporting a woman from Georgia to Tennessee and ultimately to Oxford for commercial sex purposes earlier this year.

After a two-day trial in Oxford, the jury convicted Mario D. Collins of Memphis and Paulette M. Clayton of Atlanta. The two will be sentenced at a later date and face up to 10 years in prison.

An investigation conducted by the Oxford Police Department and the FBI revealed that the female victim was transported from Atlanta to Oxford by Collins and Clayton so that she could engage in prostitution.

Evidence presented at trial established that OPD officers responded to an Oxford motel on April 27, 2017, after receiving a 911 call indicating that the victim was being held against her will. Collins and Clayton were arrested in the hotel parking lot and the victim was recovered from inside the hotel.

The victim advised responding officers that she had been held at the hotel at gunpoint. The victim also advised that she had been brought to Oxford from Georgia for prostitution purposes.

“Human trafficking is not a victimless crime,” said U.S. Attorney William C. Lamar after the conviction. “Women, many of whom are very young, are often coerced into prostitution by predators, taken advantage of, and are frequently victims of violence. Along with federal, state and local law enforcement, we will continue to address this problem in our district and prosecute those responsible.”