GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Every time Gulfport arrests suspected prostitutes, detectives know they're close to street level drug dealers. That's why the police department keeps running prostitution stings -- to sweep drugs and sex off city streets.
One of those stings was last week. Eleven alleged prostitutes went to jail. And many of them were also accused of drug violations.
Street level prostitutes don't get rich selling their bodies for sex. Police say most encounters are for $20 to $40. That's just enough money to walk over to a nearby drug dealer, and get a quick fix. Darin Corrie had some of the confiscated drugs from a recent sting on a desk at the Gulfport Police Department.
"This is what you'll typically find on the prostitutes that we arrest," the detective said. "We'll find some marijuana. Occasionally we'll find some small pieces of crack cocaine."
Those drugs, and the prostitutes addicted to them, can be found across the city of Gulfport. Bradley Walker is one of the undercover narcotics officers who busts prostitutes.
"We have about four to five specific areas that we target when we do these operations," he said.
The two detectives took WLOX News to one of those neighborhoods. That's where we met two members of Gulfport's Partners with Police program. One man was a reverend from a nearby church. In a conversation with the officers, he reminded them what he preaches to his congregants.
"You can either go to jail, or you can go to get help," the reverend said.
Standing next to him was Marjorie Quince. She's lived in Gulfport's Soria City community for decades.
"There's no reason why it should not continue as a viable neighborhood," she felt.
Yet every day, Quince sees trouble beyond her gate. Soria City's reputation as a magnet for prostitutes and drugs just won't go away. So Quince works with police to be their eyes and ears on her street.
"You know it's not as bad as it used to be. But what we want to do is eliminate it completely," she said.
Detective Corrie says that lofty goal is the aim of his narcotics team.
"The citizens demand it. That's our job. So that's what we'll do," the detective said.
About once a month, Gulfport detectives drive to specific locations and arrest women who sell their bodies for sex, and use their proceeds for drugs. Detective Walker said the stings send a loud and clear message.
"Leave our city. We tell them if you don't like the way we do our enforcement in the city of Gulfport, go somewhere else," said Walker.
In the prostitution sting last Wednesday and Thursday, 11 women were arrested. And for many of them, the charges included drug possession. You may not be surprised to read that most of the women picked up last week have been charged with prostitution on several occasions.