Oakland County, Michigan is situated to the northwest of Detroit and is part of the greater metropolitan Detroit area. Its population is roughly 1,200,000, making it the second-most populous county in Michigan, behind neighboring Wayne County. The county seat is the city of Pontiac (which has a population of about 67,000). Prostitution has been identified as a problem in the county for decades, and generates complaints to police. In a recent example, in describing a recent prostitution sting, the Oakland County Sheriff said they chose to target the high-prostitution and drug area based on citizen complaints. “These sorts of illegal activities degrade a neighborhood and will not be tolerated in Pontiac or anywhere in Oakland County. Anyone having information about these or other types of crimes in Pontiac are encouraged to contact us. I thank the citizens for making specific complaints as active and involved citizens make for a safer community.”
Sex trafficking is also well-documented within the county. For example, in February, 2021 Oakland County officials announced seven felony charges against two people accused of operating a human trafficking ring in Oakland County. The arrests came after a months-long investigation by Madison Heights police at several motels, working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and assisted by Detroit police. The charges include human trafficking of a minor for commercial sex activity, conducting a human trafficking enterprise, transporting a person for prostitution, accepting earnings from prostitution and committing computer crimes. Most of the charges are 20-year felonies. In a separate case in August, 2020, a Pontiac man was arrested and accused by the Michigan Attorney General’s office of conducting a criminal enterprise and for having a role in the prostitution and sex trafficking of at least 9 young women in Auburn Hills, Pontiac, Madison Heights, and other locations throughout Oakland County. Prosecutors charged the man with seven felonies, including: forced labor/commercial sex, a 15-year felony; pandering, a 20-year felony; accepting earnings of prostitution, a 20-year felony; transportation for prostitution, a 20-year felony; conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony; and felony firearm, a two-year felony. The man was also arraigned in a separate case in 50th District Court in Pontiac on one count of child sexually abusive material – production, a 20-year felony.
Earlier cases include one in Troy in August 2017, in which police responded to complaints from neighbors and arrested two women for prostitution in separate incidents, within just four days. In November, 2017, a 31-year-old New York woman was arrested and charged with prostitution at a Rochester Road massage parlor, and also faced a massage license ordinance violation. A “customer” was issued a misdemeanor citation for frequenting a house of ill fame and was released at the scene. In March 2018, Troy police made another arrest for prostitution at a hotel in Rochester Court. Police arrested two men for solicitation of a prostitute and one woman for prostitution at the same motel in an earlier incident. In May, 2018 police recently arrested seven people for prostitution and massage ordinance violations at a Troy massage parlor, and business’s massage license was revoked as a result. In July, 2019, two people were arrested and charged after a prostitution bust at am Asian massage parlor in Troy, which had been shut down for several previous violations. During an unannounced inspection, officers found a 30-year-old female massage therapist doing something inappropriate with a 68-year-old customer. The massage therapist and customer were both charged.
- Oakland County Sheriff’s Office
- Madison Heights Police Department
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Detroit Police Department
Street-Level Reverse Stings:
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Auburn Hills Pimp Charged with Prostituting Underage Pontiac Teen,” Michigan Live, February 28 2013.
- “Schuette Announces Criminal Charges in Pontiac Human Trafficking Case,” Press Release, February 28 2013.
- https://www.oakgov.com/boc/Documents/Commissioner%20Jackson%20supports%20annual%20S.O.A.P.%20Metro%20Detroit%20human%20trafficking%20prevention%20effort%20on%20August%2010th.pdf (2019)
- https://patch.com/michigan/troy/oakland-county-man-accused-sex-trafficking-case-ag (2020)
- https://www.freep.com/oakland-county-madison-heights-motels-human-trafficking/ (2021)
- https://www.wxyz.com/news/two-charged-one-sought-in-oakland-county-human-trafficking-case (2021)
- https://www.detroitnews.com/oakland-county-prosecutor-plans-human-trafficking-crackdown (2021)
- https://cwdetroit.cbslocal.com/video/5284508-oakland-county-prosecutor-announces-sex-trafficking-task-force-and-arrests/ (2021)
Background on Prostitution in the Area: