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Grand Traverse County is a county of approximately 96,000 residents, located in northern coastal Michigan. Traverse City is the county seat and largest community. Cases of prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation have been documented locally.
Among the responses to these problems are police operations targeting consumer-level demand, which drives all prostitution and sex trafficking markets. For example, in June 2016, officers with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office’s Traverse Narcotics Team conducted an undercover prostitution sting that resulted in the arrests of five attempted sex buyers and two prostituted persons. Each of the buyers arrested were reportedly “found” through social media posts and and intercepted at motels in undisclosed locations within the county. All of the arrestees’ names were publicized in press in the days following their arrests.
In operations occurring in April and June 2018, 35 men were arrested and charged after police said they attempted to solicit sex from undercover detectives. 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. Two detectives posed as prostituted women to meet men at a Traverse City hotel on both days of the operations. Police personnel posted fake female escort advertisements on several websites, garnering more than 60 responses through text messages. The ads promoted two fictitious women who would be in the region in April and June, with listed instructions asking those interested to text a phone number to set up an appointment. The ads prompted the defendants to travel to the hotel rooms. Most of the defendants told the undercover officers what services they were looking for and produced cash, reports state. Others began to take their clothes off before authorities waiting outside the room arrested them. Twelve men were arrested in Travese City. None of the defendants served jail time. Some charged in Grand Traverse County tried to fight the charges, but all ultimately accepted plea deals that led to probation terms and light sentences, according to 86th District Court records. Other cities included in the large-scale collaboration were Alpena, Cadillac, Houghton Lake, Lewiston, Gaylord, and Petoskey.
- Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office
- Traverse Narcotics Team
- Eighty-sixth District Court
- Michigan State Police
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “8 Suspected of Prostitution; Solem: Prostitution Stings Can Reduce Sex Trafficking,” Traverse City Record-Eagle, June 4 2016.
- https://upnorthlive.com/news/local/gallery/10-men-charged-after-prostitution-sting-in-grand-traverse-county (2018)
- https://www.record-eagle.com/news/local_news/prostitution-sting-nets-numerous-arrests (2018)
- https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/michigan-state-police-makes-35-arrests-in-prostitution-stings-across-19-counties (2018)
- https://www.record-eagle.com/news/local_news/newsmakers-numerous-arrests-light-sentences-follow-prostitution-sting (2019)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Kalkaska Mother Arrested for Prostitution, 2 Men Arrested for Drugs,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, May 8 2014.
- “Woman Arrested for Prostitution in Traverse City,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, November 20 2014.
- “Traverse City Woman Charged with Prostitution,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, November 24 2014.
- “East Bay Hotel Staff Reports Suspected Prostitution,” Traverse City Record-Eagle, February 2 2015.
- “Woman Arrested for Prostitution at Traverse City Area Hotel,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, March 26 2015.
- “Man Accused of Giving Money, Food, Shelter for Sexual Favors,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, May 22 2015.
- “Police: Mich. Auto Shop Owner Took in Homeless Men, Then Demanded Sex,” Grand Traverse Herald, May 22 2015.
- “Prostitution Case in Michigan Moves Forward Despite Questions about Law,” Grand Traverse Herald, July 29 2015.
- “Auto Shop Owner Sentenced to Prison in Prostitution Case,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, January 6 2016.
- “Two Arrested at Hotel on Human Trafficking and Prostitution Charges,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, January 6 2016.
- “Two Charged Following Prostitution Case in Grand Traverse County,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, January 11 2016.
- “TNT Arrests Woman for Prostitution in Traverse City,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, January 28 2016.
- “Charges Dismissed in Grand Traverse County Prostitution Case,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, February 22 2016.
- “Four Arrested after Prostitution Investigation in Grand Traverse County,” NBC/WPBN-TV 74, March 11 2016.