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AG Nessel Urges Awareness of Human Trafficking Signs, Shares Resources After Latest Trafficking Charges

National Human Trafficking Resource Center takes anonymous tips by text message at 233733

LANSING – Following her announcement Tuesday of Labor Trafficking charges against three West Michigan small business operators, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is raising awareness of the signs of human trafficking and reminding residents of the resources available to both victims and those who suspect trafficking in their community. 

“Human trafficking is a horrific crime that persists across the United States, including right here in Michigan,” Nessel said. “Traffickers exploit men, women, and children, forcing them into labor, sex work, and domestic servitude. These victims are often subjected to coercion, violence, and threats to keep them trapped and generate profit for their captors. By recognizing the signs of human trafficking, we can all play a part in helping victims get the support they desperately need. Remember, if you see something, say something. It could save a person’s life.”   

Human trafficking can take on many forms, including forced labor and sexual exploitation. Labor trafficking is found in many different markets that consumers might not suspect, such as convenience stores, nail salons, massage parlors, farming and agriculture, and restaurants. Those being trafficked often do not even realize they are victims of human trafficking or are not aware of how to get help. 

Human trafficking victims may: 

  • Exhibit signs of abuse, including bruises, cuts, burns, or scars, 
  • Not be in control of their own money or documents, including their driver's license or passport, 
  • Avoid eye contact with others, and appear fearful of the person they’re with, 
  • Not be allowed to communicate on their own behalf, another person may answer all questions on their behalf,  
  • Not be from the area or aware of where they are, or 
  • Not admit they are victims or ask for help. 

The Attorney General is leading the fight against human trafficking in Michigan by prosecuting criminal cases under state law banning human trafficking in Michigan, working with law enforcement task forces through the Human Trafficking Unit to help put an end to trafficking in the state. Attorneys from the Department also conduct trainings for law enforcement and prosecutors and work with community members and advocates to raise awareness of this crime. 

Additionally, the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission was formed in 2015 when the 2014 Human Trafficking Commission Act became law. The Commission is comprised of 9 members appointed by the Governor and includes designees from the Department of Attorney General, Michigan State Police, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Assistant Attorney General Melissa Palepu is the Commission’s current chair.   

The mission of the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission as set forth by the 2014 Human Trafficking Commission Act includes:  

  • Identifying sources for grants that will assist in examining and countering human trafficking in this state and applying for those grants when appropriate.  
  • Funding research programs to determine the extent and nature of human trafficking in Michigan.  
  • Providing information and training regarding human trafficking to:
    • Police officers
    • Prosecutors
    • Court personnel
    • Health care providers
    • Social services personnel
    • Other individuals the commission considers appropriate
  • Collecting and analyzing information regarding human trafficking in Michigan
  • Identifying state and local agencies within Michigan and other states, as well as within the federal government, that are involved with issues relating to human trafficking, and coordinating the dissemination of information regarding human trafficking in Michigan to those agencies.
  • Reviewing existing services available to assist human trafficking victims, including crime victim assistance, health care, and legal assistance, and establishing a program to make those victims better aware of the services available to them.
  • Establishing a program to improve public awareness of human trafficking. Reviewing existing state laws and administrative rules relating to human trafficking and making recommendations to the legislature to improve those laws and rules to address human trafficking violations in Michigan.

Meetings of the Commission are held at the Williams Building at 525 W. Ottawa Street in downtown Lansing and are additionally accessible remotely via Microsoft Teams. The Commission invites survivors of human trafficking, advocacy groups, law enforcement partners, and members of the public to join their upcoming meetings scheduled for:   

  • Wednesday, May 22nd,  
  • Wednesday, July 31st,  
  • Wednesday, September 25th, and  
  • Wednesday, November 13th. 

Victims of human trafficking or those who have identified someone they think may need help can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888 or text 233733. This is a national, toll-free hotline, that is available to answer calls, texts, and chats from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. All calls are confidential. 

Additional information on the Attorney General's human trafficking initiative, including updated state laws prohibiting trafficking, is available on the Attorney General's website. 


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