A metro area man is behind bars in the "Big Easy" after being arrested on sex trafficking charges.
Police arrested 36-year-old Pierre Smith of Jackson and 38-year-old Angela Cagnolatti of New Orleans after finding two 16-year-old girls and a newborn boy in their hotel room. Police say one of the girls had been reported missing, and the other had been reported as a runaway in May.
Smith and Cagnolatti are both being held on a $100,000 bond.
Police say they were holding the girls against their will, driving to different hotel rooms in the area, where they were forced to have sex. Authorities in Ridgeland who successfully prosecuted the first sex trafficking case in the state, say it's a transient business where runaway teens are often preyed upon,
"They promise them things," said Lt. Tony Wilridge. "They promise them money, promise them clothes promise them material things. Once they get them in and get them working so to speak, then they keep them in it by force by threat or physical harm."
Wilridge, of the Ridgeland police department, says victims can sometimes be forced to have sex multiple times a day, some also hooked on drugs or alcohol.
Escaping is not always an option, but law enforcement has some advice to give to sex trafficking victims.
"Do the best you can to get to the hotel lobby and ask to use the phone," added Wilridge. "Be very discrete about what it is you're doing because these individuals will harm you."
A staff attorney with the Orleans Public Defenders office argued that there was no sign either girl told police anything incriminating about either one of the defendants.
Friday, August 17 2018 2:14 AM EDT2018-08-17 06:14:36 GMT
Saturday, August 18 2018 5:51 PM EDT2018-08-18 21:51:40 GMT
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