Kalamazoo 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

Kalamazoo County is a county located in the state of Michigan. As of 2020, the county population was over 261,000. The county seat is the city of Kalamazoo, with a population of about 76,000 residents, located in southwestern Michigan. A number of serious crimes and other problems are associated with the local commercial sex market have been well documented in the city of Kalamazoo, and other areas of the county.  For example, child sex trafficking and the production of trafficking-related child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, referred to as “child pornography” in most state laws) have been documented within the county, as have cases of prostituted women being murdered. For example, in October, 2018, a man was sentenced to life in prison in federal court for sexually exploiting three teenagers. The jury found the offender guilty of producing “child pornography” involving three teenage girls, forcing one of the girls to engage in prostitution, felonious possession of firearms and conspiring to distribute cocaine. the man had been arrested after police officers responded to a report that he had a 16-year-old girl held against her will at his home. When police arrived, the suspect denied having any girls in the house, but officers found the girl in his unlit basement. The girl told police the man had forced her into the basement to avoid police detection. The girl said she met him when he invited her to a party two weeks prior where he gave her cocaine and demanded sex as payment. She said the man continued providing cocaine and demanding sex in the weeks that followed, sometimes recording the acts on video. Battle Creek police and Department of Homeland Security Investigations found approximately 30 videos of the offender engaging in sex acts with the 16-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old girl on his Snapchat account and iPhone. Search warrants also revealed videos of the man with cocaine and guns.

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. The Kalamazoo Count Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Kalamazoo Police Department and other municipal departments, have conducted reverse sting operations.  For example, in April, 2022, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office deputies “fielded a thousand contacts “ during an 8 hour child sex trafficking operation in which an advertisement was posted offering “a 15-year-old girl for the purpose of having sex in exchange for money.” Three male sex buyers/abusers appeared at locations arranged with undercover police to buy access to the child for the purpose of sexual abuse, and were arrested.  The identities of the arrested men were included in news reports. The operation was conducted by a new group (as of 2022) within the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department called “KHOST” for the Kalamazoo Human Oppression Strike Team. The operation was similar to a program started at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office which also targets human trafficking anywhere in Kalamazoo County.​

In January, 2023, a former Kalamazoo pastor was sentenced in a sex crimes case where he allegedly paid teenage boys to engage in sex acts with his wife at his home. The man was sentenced to 12 months in Kalamazoo County Jail on one felony count of facilitation of travel services for purposes of prostitution. The man’s identity was publicly disclosed, and he was removed from his position as a paster as a consequence of his arrest and prosecution for buying sex.

Key Partners

  • Kalamazoo Count Sheriff’s Office
    • Kalamazoo Human Oppression Strike Team
  • Kalamazoo Police Department

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure, Employment Loss:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Michigan
Type County
Population 261108
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