Sault Ste. Marie, 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

Sault Ste. Marie is a city in northern Michigan, abutting the Canadian border, and has a population of approximately 13,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified by law enforcement as problems in the city, and throughout the rest of Chippewa County. The activity has generated numerous complaints from residents to police about prostitution. In response to such concerns, police have targeted consumer-level demand for prostitution.

The Sault Ste. Marie Police Department has conducted several reverse stings. For example, two operations in 2010 resulted in 20 arrests, and the identities of arrested sex buyers were released to local news outlets. In August 2021, the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office arrested three men on child sex trafficking charges after a sting operation. The three men had each been chatting about sexual acts with who they thought were underage teenagers online, but who were actually officers who set up meetings with the men. The sex buyers were arrested individually as they showed up to a Sault Ste. Marie hotel, as arranged. The men’s identities were publicly disclosed.

Some local arrests of sex buyers are the result of investigating allegations against real victims as opposed to the product of sting operations using police decoys. For example, in March 2023, a 30-year-old Sault Ste Marie man faced 13 charges related to human trafficking, sexual assault, and possession of narcotics. The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office alleged that the man had been supplying drugs to young women struggling with addiction to obtain sex through coercion. Since the fall of 2022, the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT) had been investigating the man, and several search warrants were executed over several months, resulting in the seizure of Methamphetamine, prescription medications, and what the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office called an “overwhelming amount of video evidence spanning several years.”

Key Partners

  • Sault Ste. Marie Police Department
  • Michigan State Police
State Michigan
Type City
Population 13410
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