NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Three people were arrested in connection with child sex trafficking after police discovered a 17-year-old, who had been reported missing, engaged in prostitution at a downtown hotel, according to Louisiana State Police.
Kendrick Pigott, 29, Gregory Russell, 31, and Tiara Smothers, 20, were arrested on Thursday and booked into the Orleans Parish Lock-Up on a charge of trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Pigott was also booked with seven counts of non-compliance for failure to register as a sex offender and one count of unlawful use of a social networking website.
Louisiana State Police Detectives assigned to the Bureau of Investigations Special Victims Unit, Homeland Security Investigations, New Orleans Police Department, U.S. Marshall Service and Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office conducted an investigation related to commercial sex trafficking in the New Orleans area. The investigation began in September after the 17-year-old female was found engaging in "commercial sexual activity" with Smothers, according to State Police. The teen had been reported missing from the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services custody seven weeks prior.
Police said further investigation revealed that Pigott was the ring leader of a commercial sex trafficking enterprise and Russell was a co-conspirator who assisted in the sexual exploitation by renting hotel rooms and acting as security for the enterprise. The case remains under investigation.
"We continue to witness our children being preyed upon by these predators," said State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson. "I urge the public to report anything that may seem suspicious or out of place. Investigations that combat child sex trafficking often involve the public's assistance and by working together more children can be rescued."
If citizens have information related to criminal activity, they are encouraged to use the "See Something Send Something" application which will connect them and their mobile devices to criminal intelligence centers nationwide. "See Something Send Something" is a nationwide suspicious activity reporting (SAR) tool for citizens to help in the fight against terrorism and criminal activity. Additionally, the free app has information on what to look for and when to submit suspicious activity reports along with how to receive important alerts. The application can be found at My Mobile Witness, Inc. please visit http://www.mymobilewitness.com/consumer-services.php. This system is not intended for emergency situations. For situations requiring an immediate response, call 911 or your local law enforcement directly.
The Louisiana State Police on-line reporting system is also available to the public through a convenient and secure reporting form that is submitted to the appropriate investigators. Citizens can access the form by visiting www.lsp.org and clicking the Suspicious Activity link.