Police cracking down on human trafficking in northern Michigan

Police cracking down on human trafficking

EMMET COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- The Michigan State Police will be going after human traffickers across northern Michigan, both by conducting undercover sting operations and by working with the public to help report possible victims.

According to the Michigan State Police, the state of Michigan is ranked as having the sixth highest number of human trafficking instances in the country.

Now, police are fighting back.

“We have begun several undercover operations in northern Michigan," said Lt. Derrick Carroll." "We are working with our multi-jurisdictional task force team members, we are coordinating efforts with them for sting operations to target victims and possible suspects of human trafficking to help put an end to it in our area.”

Many people hear the term human trafficking and think of sex trafficking, but the other side of it is labor trafficking.

Police are also working to educate businesses on how to spot it.

“That’s why we’re reaching out to hotels, businesses and people in the public to be aware of this and to look for the signs," Carroll said. "It could be people who don’t have identification, have trouble, difficulty speaking the language, don’t know a lot of people. We’d really like it if the victims could feel confident enough to come forward.”

“It shouldn’t really be called human trafficking, it’s slavery," said Jane White, the director of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force.

The task force has combined 125 agencies from law enforcement to health care that work on preventing human trafficking.

They say getting people to understand what human trafficking is, is the first step.

“Prosecutors need to understand it, juries need to understand it, and more than anything else, what are we going to do when victims are identified," White said.

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