Sex sting nets 23 arrests
A Neshoba County man was arrested and charged as one of over a dozen suspects in a sweeping operation targeting individuals attempting to hire children to meet for sex or asking them to produce child pornography.
Jeffrey Winstead, 50, of Philadelphia was arrested by the Hernando Police Department on Tuesday, Aug. 18. He was charged with enticement of a child to meet for sexual purposes.
Winstead bonded out of the Desoto County Adult Detention Facility later that day on a $25,000 bond. He has a court date in Hernando in October.
Winstead was brought in as part of Operation Masked Justice conducted by the Mississippi Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, operated by the Office of the Mississippi Attorney General.
According to a release from Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office. the week-long operation involved the use of online, undercover, and traditional investigative actions to locate individuals attempting to hire children to meet for sex or asking them to produce child pornography.
“I will continue to work with our partners in the Task Force to aggressively pursue justice for victims of child exploitation across the State,” AG Fitch said. “I would like to thank the many law enforcement officers and prosecutors who assisted in this operation for their hard work this week and for their continued dedication to the safety of our children.”
Operation Masked Justice resulted in the arrest of at least 13 individuals across the state owith all charges related to the sexual exploitation or enticement of minors. Law enforcement officers served 21 search warrants in support of the operation. Fitch said that her office has already secured one indictment and three felony convictions in relation to the operation.
In addition to HPD and Fitch’s office, the effort was coordinated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Pearl Police Department, Clinton Police Department, Brandon Police Department, Flowood Police Department, Richland Police Department, the Florence Police Department, United States Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.