A two-day human trafficking and prostitution sting operation in the Kansas City, Mo., area last week led to 21 arrests– including a suspect police say held a woman and her child hostage in their home for months, according to federal immigration authorities and a local report.
Jeffrey Higgins, 48, had allegedly refused to leave the victim’s Kansas home since June and forced her into prostitution, Fox 4 in Kansas City reported.
The victim told police Higgins injected her with meth and heroin against her will when she refused.
“Many times we hear our clients say, ‘I don’t do drugs. They drugged me,'” human trafficking advocate Denise Lester told Fox 4. “They obviously have to go through the whole withdrawal and recovery process because it’s still in their system. But that’s an unfortunate injustice to them because they never chose to do those drugs.”
An undercover officer answered the victim’s ad and after she met him at a hotel she told the officer Higgins was in the parking lot with her daughter, reports said. Following a pursuit, he was arrested by Kansas Highway Patrol officers after he stopped for gas.
He was charged with child endangerment and drug possession.
Higgins’ relationship to the victim is unclear.
He has a long criminal record, going back to 1995, Fox 4 reported.
The other suspects’ charges included prostitution, drug possession and weapons offenses, police said.
Authorities seized two firearms, counterfeit money and small amounts of meth and crack cocaine, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement.
No other information was released. The investigation is ongoing.