Mississippi’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force recently made eight arrests for child exploitation in Operation Trick or Treat.

The arrests included Jason Covington, 48, of Stonewall, who was charged with one count of child exploitation for possession of child pornography.

The others arrested between October 22 and 26 were:
• Samuel Blake Cascio, 31, Petal, two counts of child exploitation for possession of child pornography and one count of possession of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
• Zachorey Taylor Compton, 22, Gulfport, two counts of child exploitation for possession of child pornography
• Colby Isaiah Johnson, 22, Bay St. Louis, two counts of child exploitation for possession of child pornography
• Gordon Hopkins, 54, Amory, one count of child exploitation for possession of child pornography
• Shawn Crabtree, 34, Southaven, one count of child exploitation
• Willie Terrell Leflore, 67, Southaven, one count of child exploitation
• Kenneth Wayne Jones, 25, Lucedale, one count of enticement of a child for sexual purposes, held without bond at George County Adult Detention Facility

“Parents should always be aware that no matter where you live, work, or play, there are unfortunately sick people who prey on children,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “We couldn’t do this without the help of our local, state, and federal partners, and I thank them for their commitment to protecting Mississippi’s children.”

Assistance in these cases was given by the Mississippi Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Federal Bureau of Investigation Jackson Office, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations Jackson and Gulfport Offices, Clarke County Sheriff’s Department, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, Harrison County Sheriff’s Office, Harrison County District Attorney’s Office, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, Waveland Police Department’s Cybercrime Division, Southaven Police Department, Bay St. Louis Police Department, Lucedale Police Department, Pearl Police Department, Madison Police Department, Ridgeland Police Department, Meridian Public Schools Campus Police Department, Greenwood Police Department, and the Carroll County Constable’s Office.

In addition to the arrests and convictions, members of the ICAC Task Force did five presentations to nearly 1,000 4th-9th grade students along with 40 mentors, teachers, parents and administrators.

Hood also encouraged families to keep safety in mind this Halloween by offering the following reminders and tips:

• Take children to familiar neighborhoods and approach only homes with outside lighting.
• Remind children of everyday safety rules, such as not getting into cars or talking to strangers, watching both ways before crossing streets, and crossing with the stop light at an intersection when they are trick-or-treating.
• Adults should always accompany small children to caution them against running into streets and across lawns or driveways. Please use sidewalks where available.
• Encourage children to wait until they get home to eat candy so that adults can inspect the goodies.
• Parents should throw away any treats that are not commercially wrapped or appear to be tampered with.
• Choose costumes with light or bright colors whenever possible, or trim a darker costume with reflective tape. Consider also having children carry a flashlight to make sure they can see the walking path and are visible to drivers.

The following people were also prosecuted by the AG’s office:

• Quincy LaBauve of Biloxi entered an open plea in Harrison County Circuit Court for two counts of child exploitation and one count of sexual battery of a child. He will be sentenced in November. The Harrison County District Attorney’s Office assisted in prosecution.
• James Michael Williams, 52, was sentenced in DeSoto County Circuit Court after an open plea to one count of child exploitation, where he admitted to possessing child pornography of children between the ages of five and eight years old. He was sentenced to serve five years in prison with three years suspended and two to serve.