If you live in Southeast Michigan, you may have heard about “Operation Crusade.”
Police are cracking down on sex trafficking in Metro Detroit and surrounding communities. According to the Detroit Free Press, more than 30 people were arrested during a police sweep of hotels and motels in Warren.
There are 75 charges put on those detained, 30 felonies and 45 misdemeanors. Two of those charges – transporting a prostitute and accepting the earnings of a prostitute – are 20-year felonies.
Among those arrested, two women came forward as victims of sex trafficking and have not been charged with any crime. In addition, no minors were detained or found as victims in this sweep.
Police have gathered intelligence for the next phase of the campaign.
What Does Sex Trafficking In Michigan Look Like?
If you are a parent living in Southeast Michigan – or anywhere in the country – during this time when reports of sex trafficking are on the rise, you may be understandably concerned about the safety of your children. So, how does this crime usually work, and how can you keep your family safe?
According to Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer, “Michigan has the 11th highest call volume to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”
Yes, human trafficking is a nationwide epidemic and a billion dollar industry. Furthermore, it does involve young children.
The way criminals operate is changing, as well. Technology has made it possible to solicit and lure over the internet. Additionally, money can change hands electronically without leaving a trail.
However, according to the Polaris Project, human trafficking isn’t the violent crime we imagine it to be. Victims aren’t always held against their will and unable to leave, as was the case for Theresa Flores.
There are often complicated psychological factors at play, forcing victims to act against their will. Traffickers often choose people they know. Many survivors are trafficked by their parents or romantic partners.
Do you wonder how this is possible?
The face of victims of human trafficking is often the face of young women and men who grew up in a dysfunctional home. Moreover, they are often people who were neglected or victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse long before sex trafficking began.
In other countries, sex trafficking may look differently. However, this is the primary way it looks in the U.S. and Metro Detroit.
In consequence of this, it can be complicated to get trafficked victims to report. In addition, they have often been treated like criminals in the past.
The Danger is on the Internet, Not the Streets
Have you ever seen these reports on Facebook – reports that claim there have been attempted abductions all over Southeast Michigan, and that human trafficking is on the rise?
Have you ever been afraid to take your children anywhere or let them out of your sight for one minute?
Thankfully, Michigan State Police took to Twitter to strike down such rumors, saying that the perception of people being pulled into vans is wrong.
In conclusion, most trafficking stems from the internet, and that is where your children are most vulnerable. The best way to protect your child from sex traffickers, say Michigan State Police, is to monitor their internet activity. And ignore those Facebook posts.
Finally, if you are or a loved one is being investigated for sex trafficking, it is critical that you contact an experienced criminal attorney.