JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Thirteen people were arrested in a suspected sex trafficking case in Jonesboro over the weekend in Operation S.U.I.T. )Stopping Underage Illegal Trafficking).
Chief Rick Elliott of the Jonesboro Police Department says they realized the severity of sex trafficking once they added a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) person to their ranks.
“Once the agent arrived and we started looking into this issue, we found that it’s much bigger than we thought it was going to be,” he said.
An in-house task force to battle sex trafficking was soon created after the HSI addition.
On Jan. 31, a dozen HSI agents worked to arrest those 13 individuals involved with sex trafficking.
Chief Elliott says using an aggressive prosecution approach is the plan for anyone involved in these types of crimes.
“If you are an individual that is trafficking these young women or young boys, my goal is to prosecute you on the federal level and get as much jail time as I possibly can for you and get you off the streets,” he says.
Punishment towards the crime on the federal level can be up to 100 years, according to Chief Elliott.
Chief Elliott says sex trafficking is far from over in Jonesboro and plans to make more arrests.
Statistics from Jonesboro police show the average age for kids entering the sex trade is 12 to 14 years old.
To file a report online, click here or call the 24-hour sex trafficking hotline at 870-339-7256.