Sheriffs across Michigan team up to fight human trafficking

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Sheriffs across Michigan team up to fight human trafficking

August 26, 2021

By Maria Diss

Originally posted on
upnorthlive.com

MECOSTA COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) — In 2021, there were 364 human trafficking cases reported in Michigan according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Michigan ranks in the top 10 states with the highest rate of human trafficking in the county.

Now, sheriffs across the state are working to decrease those numbers.

Sheriffs from across west Michigan are joining GHOST.

It stands for Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team, and it’s made up of law enforcement fighting human trafficking.

“There’s education, there is awareness, there is great aftercare, but we have to be the enforcers, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said.

Since Sheriff Swanson started the group in 2018.

There have been four large rescues, dozens of operations and over 130 predators arrested.

“National stats will tell you that one predator identified saves the lives of 25 future victims,” Swanson said.

Law enforcement on the west side of the state recently arrested six human trafficking predators.

Putting those sic away has the potential to protect 150 victims, according to Swanson.

“Predators are as much on TikTok as they are on Instagram. They are among us in our stores, in schools, in churches, we’ve seen that through history,” Swanson said.

He said advocates report traffickers are using social media to recruit and advertise targets of human trafficking.

He said it’s important to start educating children young.

Montcalm County Sheriff Michael Williams said he’s thankful his deputies are a part of GHOST.

“It’s a good feeling to know that you go out and that we protect children, not just in my county, but in West Michigan and throughout the state,” Williams said. “Predators travel, they don’t just stay within one county.”

Williams said because of the support from GHOST, his team was able to run an independent operation Tuesday night.