Genesee County, 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

Genesee County is located in eastern Michigan and has a population of approximately 400,000.  The county seat and population center is the city of Flint.  Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-established problems in the county and surrounding areas.  This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Some of these complaints have included the sex trafficking of children and people with special needs. For example, in 2019, three people were arrested and charged after officials say they forced two women and one man into prostitution at gunpoint, in order to repay their drug debt.  The numerous charges say the victims were forced to perform sexual acts, against their will, in order to repay a drug debt they owed. The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office had been informed of the situation via a confidential informant who said the victims were being marketed as prostitutes on a website.  One of the defendants had assaulted one of the victims extensively. Authorities executed search warrants at homes in Burton and Flint, believed to be connected to the incident. At the Burton home they discovered, an AR-15 rifle, crack cocaine, marijuana, used hypodermic needles, drug paraphernalia, pornography, and condoms. They also found a 6-month-old child who was turned over to child protective services and seized the computer allegedly used to post the victims on The traffickers charged the victims $20 per day to utilize a bedroom in the home for sex acts. Defendants were arraigned on numerous charges including “human trafficking, prostitution, unlawful imprisonment, using a computer to commit a crime, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, felon in possession of a firearm,  assault, possession of heroin and possession of cocaine, allowing a child to live in a house of prostitution, fourth-degree child abuse, and reckless use of a weapon.”

In 2020, six missing children were recovered by the Genesee County Sheriff’s office, including a 16-year-old with special needs, who was locked in a barn surrounded by barbed wire, where numerous men paid to sexually abuse her.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office has conducted street-level reverse stings since 2000 and web-based stings since 2010. Some years, the Sheriff’s Office was able to conduct street-level reverse stings weekly, during the summer months. There have also been public education/awareness campaigns, neighborhood watch programs, and community service programs put in place. As well as a vehicle seizure program for sex buyers using a vehicle during the time of the arrest.  Arrested sex buyers are identified in local news sources, pay heavy fines to recover their seized autos, and may have other sanctions imposed by judges.

In 2018, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office deployed the Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team (or GHOST), designed to respond to – and deter – sex trafficking and prostitution.  Between 2018 and April 2021, over 100 suspects were arrested. An operation, in April 2021, found a sheriff’s deputy was among those caught in a sex-trafficking sting conducted by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office’s GHOST.  The Deputy was arrested and fired from his position, after allegedly exchanging messages with an undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old girl online. The deputy allegedly sent 446 messages to the undercover officer, whom he believed was a 15-year-old. When the suspect was asked to meet the decoy, he didn’t show up but, did allegedly send “graphic pictures” and “almost demanded” the decoy send pictures of themself in return.  The deputy was arrested and arraigned on charges of “child sexually abusive activity, internet communications with another to commit a crime, children accosting for immoral purposes, and common law offenses for misconduct in office.”

Some local arrests of sex buyers are the result of allegations of crimes against real victims, rather than the product of reverse stings using undercover police decoys.  For example, in another GHOST operation, a Vassar Township woman was sentenced to a minimum of 13.5 years in prison for sex trafficking her 6-year-old daughter. A man was also arrested for purchasing access to sexually abuse the child.  The man plead no contest to counts of “first-degree criminal sexual conduct during a felony”, reduced from “first-degree criminal sexual conduct”. He also plead guilty to “child sexual abuse activity”, reduced from “human trafficking a minor”, per circuit court records.

Key Partners

  • Genesee County Sheriff’s Office
  • Genesee County Human Trafficking Task Force
    • Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team
  • Flint Police Department

Key Sources

National Assessment survey and interview with Genessee County Sheriff’s Office

Street-level reverse stings:

Web-based reverse stings:

Arrest and Identity Disclosure:

Vehicle Seizure:

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:

State Michigan
Type County
Population 406211
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