Burton, 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

Burton is a city of just under 30,000 residents in southeastern Michigan. Located in Genesee County, it is a suburb directly east of Flint. Prostitution and sex trafficking, including child sex trafficking, have been documented in the city, resulting in complaints to law enforcement. For example, in 2013 three people were arrested for sex trafficking victims who were addicted to heroin and were unable to pay the defendants for drugs they had obtained. One of the defendants also had their 18-month-old child present at the Burton hotel where the victims were held.

Among the responses to the many crimes and community disorder problems generated by the prostitution market are those targeting consumer-level demand for commercial sex. Neighborhood action is one demand tactic that has been used in the city. For example, in 2009 some residents conducted a campaign to keep prostitution out of their neighborhoods, including confronting a sex buyer and asking him to leave.

In November 2017, a Burton man was indicted for allegedly trying to buy a 10-year-old girl for sex and eventual marriage. The investigation began in July when the Flint Area Narcotics Group identified the man through a sex trafficking operation and then contacted the FBI. The man exchanged texts with an undercover officer and said he wanted to purchase a girl from the age of 7 to 10 years for $100 per month for the purpose of sex and to eventually be his wife and bear his children when she got older. During their communication, the undercover agent told the man he wouldn’t be able to legally marry the child since she was 10 and he replied, “I understand that but eventually she would be my wife. Keep it on the hush hush, then me and her can talk about how we met 20 years later lol. I don’t want her if she’s been touched by another man.” The man also repeatedly demanded naked photos of the minor. The FBI arrested the man at a hotel in Burton in November. He admitted to sending the messages and said he was looking for a long-term relationship, marriage, and to have children, adding that he had never had a successful relationship and “age is not important.” He was charged with attempted manufacture of child pornography (i.e., child sexual abuse material) and attempted enticement. His identity was released to the press. During an interview, the man told law enforcement that relatives had accused him of inappropriate contact with his younger nieces but he denied their claims. Authorities also learned that Burton Police had questioned the man in early 2013 after a complaint he had possibly propositioned the 7-year-old daughter of his brother’s girlfriend; others had made similar accusations in the past. In March 2018, the man was deemed incompetent to stand trial after an evaluation showed he believed himself to be an Irish professional mixed martial artist. The court ordered him to be hospitalized for four months to determine if he would regain competency.

Employment loss is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the city. In April 2021, a Burton man was sentenced to jail time after pleading guilty to child sexually abusive activity. He had been caught trying to meet a 14-year-old girl in a sex trafficking sting conducted by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department in March 2020. He was identified as a firefighter for the Burton Fire Department at the time of the charges, but was suspended without pay from the fire department and later terminated following his arrest. He linked his actions to pornography addiction.

Key Partners

  • Flint Area Narcotics Group
  • FBI
  • Burton Fire Department
  • Genesee County Sheriff’s Department
State Michigan
Type City
Population 29500
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