Alpena, MI

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Alpena is a city of about 10,000 residents in northeastern Michigan, located on the shores of Lake Huron. It is the only city in and the county seat of Alpena County. The second most populated city in northern Michigan, it is considered to be one of the two anchor cities of region, along with Traverse City. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Alpena County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking.

To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Michigan State Police, multi-jurisdictional task force teams, sheriff’s offices, and city police departments collaborated in 2018 to conduct enforcement operations across 19 counties in northern Michigan aimed at arresting individuals using the Internet to purchase sex. Between February and June, 35 arrests were made in seven counties during nine enforcement initiatives. Seventy criminal counts were evenly split between charges of solicitation for prostitution and using a computer to commit a crime. The photos and identities of the arrested men were included in news releases. Two of the sex buyers were arrested in Alpena. Other cities included in the large-scale collaboration were Traverse City, Cadillac, Houghton Lake, Lewiston, Gaylord, and Petoskey.

Some local arrests of sex buyers are the result of investigating allegations against real victims as opposed to the product of sting operations using police decoys. For example, in February, 2023, a 70-year-old man was arraigned in Alpena’s 88th District Court on one count Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree During a Felony, three counts Aggravated Child Sexually Abusive Activity, two counts Using a Computer to Commit a Crime, and one count Accosting and Soliciting Prostitution. Detectives from the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post had been called by the Alpena Police Department to investigate an alleged sexual assault of a child that occurred outside of their jurisdiction. A suspect was identified, and search warrants were executed at the man’s Alpena residence, as well as his business. Detectives recovered digital evidence including “countless images and videos of child sexually abusive material” (CSAM). The man was also found to be manufacturing child sexually abusive material and using social media platforms to reach out to young females.

Key Partners

  • Michigan State Police
  • Alpena Police Department
  • Alpena County Sheriff’s Office
State Michigan
Type City
Population 9987
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