January 11, 2021
LANSING – In observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is recognizing the efforts of the state’s Human Trafficking Unit for its continuing fight to eradicate this terrible crime from the Great Lakes State.
The Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Unit was formed in 2011 and has 24 convictions under its belt. Since 2019 when Attorney General Nessel took office, prosecutors have charged five individuals with human trafficking crimes. Three have been charged by state officials, while two others were charged in coordination with county prosecutors.
Those charged by the Attorney General’s office include:
“Every day new victims fall into this form of modern-day slavery – whether through prostitution, illegal labor or some other means – and my office is just a small piece of the opposition to this criminal underworld,” Nessel said. “The Michigan Human Trafficking Unit has provided training to hundreds of professionals and law enforcement personnel so that they can better identify and manage this continuing threat, and we remain vigorously engaged in prosecution efforts to hold these offenders accountable. This pervasive crime requires a concerted effort to manage, and I am committed to doing all that we can to protect our residents from becoming another human trafficking statistic.”
According to the most recent report from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, in 2019 the National Human Trafficking Hotline received more than 300 reports of incidents of human trafficking in Michigan alone. Among those reports, the top three venues for labor trafficking were domestic work, traveling sales crews, and restaurants/food service. The top three venues for sex trafficking included illicit massage/spa businesses, residence-based commercial sex, and hotel/motel-based commercial sex.
In addition to the Human Trafficking Unit, the Michigan Department of Attorney General is the home of the 14-seat Michigan Human Trafficking Commission, created by the Legislature in 2015. Its members are appointed by the Governor to represent various groups and public officials.
Part of the Commission’s mission is to collect and analyze information regarding human trafficking in the state, as well as identify and coordinate opportunities to assist in human trafficking enforcement efforts, among other tasks.
The Commission also reviews existing state laws and administrative rules related to human trafficking, and in 2019 made a recommendation of roughly 30 human trafficking bills aimed at expanding training requirements for certain professionals, strengthening tools to hold traffickers accountable, expanding protections for victims of trafficking, and revising the criminal justice system’s approach to commercial sexual activity, otherwise known as prostitution. The bills were introduced in the Michigan Legislature in early 2020 shortly before COVID-19 struck Michigan, but did not receive final passage before the Legislature adjourned in December.
“My office remains committed to working with members of the Legislature, including new members of the House of Representatives, and I am confident that these bills will not only be reintroduced this session but also receive the attention they deserve,” Nessel said. “We are ready and willing to do anything possible to enact this legislation into law as we seek to further protect our residents from this terrible crime.”
Anyone who may have identified a victim of human trafficking, or who is a victim themselves, should contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-3737-888. All calls made to the national, toll-free hotline are confidential. Calls can be made from anywhere in the country, 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, every day of the year. Some indicators of possible trafficking include:
For more information on the Attorney General’s efforts to combat human trafficking and the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission, visit the department’s website.