|IT Based Tactics
Berrien Springs is a village of about 2,000 residents located within Oronoko Charter Township, in Berrien County, Michigan. At least one instance of child sex trafficking, along with the recording of child sexual abuse materials (i.e., child pornography), has been reported in the village. This instance led to the arrest of a sex buyer.
In April 2023, an Illinois man admitted to traveling to Berrien Springs to sexually assault a 12-year-old girl. A woman reported to the Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police Department that her 12-year-old daughter was missing on April 14 at 11:30 a.m. The girl left her house and went to meet a man in his 20s to exchange sex in the woods for drugs after her mother went to work at 5 a.m. Later, the girl’s sister found a video of the encounter on the 12-year-old’s Snapchat account, which was sent by the Illinois man. The video showed was shot from the perspective of the male, and showed the girl being sexually abused by the man in the woods. His face was clearly visible in the video. At 4 p.m. that day, the FBI was notified the girl was missing, and initiated emergency disclosure requests to track her location and identify the suspect. One disclosure request was sent to Snapchat for the girls’ account and the account that sent the video. Snapchat returned a Google account email address and IP logs returning to Verizon Wireless. Police searched in a public record database which identified the man as the email address user. Another disclosure request was then submitted to Google for the email, requesting all account information, including subscriber and location information. This information showed that the account had traveled from Chicago to Berrien Springs from 1 a.m.-4 a.m., spent time in the vicinity of the 12-year-old’s address, and then traveled towards Benton Harbor, MI, before leaving to return to Chicago around 4 p.m. The man was in the vicinity of Berrien Springs or Eau Claire when the video of the sexual abuse encounter was sent to the girl’s account. Google also provided the man’s cell phone number and address. In the early morning hours of April 15, agents approached the residence and found the man and 12-year-old girl seated in a vehicle in the driveway. The man admitted to communicating with the girl on Snapchat with the goal of driving to Michigan to sexually abuse her. He said that he waited until her mother left for work to pick her up, and then sexually abused her twice. He also admitted to talking to others who he believed were minors on Snapchat, but said the girl was the first one he met in person. The man was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, transportation of a minor, and travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual activity. His identity was released to the press.
- Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police Department
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.fox17online.com/news/local-news/michigan/illinois-man-admits-to-traveling-to-berrien-springs-to-assault-12-year-old-michigan-girl (2023)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area: