JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The Hinds County Sheriff's Department has been conducting a series of sweeps targeting prostitution in and around the Jackson area.
Investigators say those sting operations have produced arrests for other, more serious crimes and they are pointing to WLBT's Taking Back Our Neighborhoods series of reports as one of the reasons for their success.
There were the arrests of Chocolate Thunder and Vanilla on Langley Street and Wisconsin resident Lorraine Luckett on High Street, prostitutes who worked the internet to ply their trade.
There were also raids on strip clubs in Jackson where dancers offered sex for money instead of lap dances.
And then there were the reverse stings called 'Operation Hoppin John' where nearly a dozen men and one woman were busted for trying to pick up a prostitute.
Since late 2010, the sweeps have been conducted in neighborhoods where residents had had enough, residents who called 3 On Your Side.
"Well, actually this series of investigations began based on some of the complaints made to the Taking Back Our Neighborhood series that was running on WLBT," Lt. Jeffrey Scott said. "Now, some people classified those prostitution stings as trivial, but I think some of the recoveries we've had, they speak for themselves."
Cases like the arrest of Marquandre Colon, 17, on Alabama Street.
Officers found assault rifles, other weapons, ammunition and drugs.
Lt. Scott says he doesn't think Colon was working alone.
"Now, one of the things that was very disturbing is that those weapons in that highly, densely populated neighborhood and then again with this individual being a 17-year-old, that's just very disturbing and what that shows you is that members of the drug trade are starting earlier, younger ages and they're more violent," Lt. Scott said. "So this is part of an ongoing initiative by the Hinds County Sheriff's Department to help take back our neighborhoods."
Reserve deputies, who were key in the sweeps, were recently honored in their 19th annual banquet.
But Lt. Scott says deputies can do their jobs best when the whole community gets involved.
"A lot of people feel that they don't have a voice. A lot of people don't feel that they have anyone that they can go to when they have a problem in their neighborhoods, so I think that this program has encouraged people to come forward," Lt. Scott said. "We were able to get some tips that we may or may not have gotten had it not been for Taking Back Our Neighborhood stories."
Lt. Scott says the sweeps will continue.
Let us know how we can help you take back your neighborhood.
And, if you've already turned your community around, we want to know how you did it.
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