St. Clair County, Michigan, is situated along the St. Clair River and across from Ontario, Canada. Commercial sex activity– including attempts by adults to solicit prostitution acts from minors– has been reported locally throughout the county. Law enforcement agencies have attempted to curtail demand for prostitution by targeting sex buyers for arrest. In November 2016, a representative with the Port Huron Police Department announced the completion of a series of web stings in Port Huron and neighboring Marysville. The operation was a joint effort between the PHPD, Marysville Police Department, Michigan State Police, U.S. Customs and U.S. Border Patrol– collectively dubbed the Neighborhood Enforcement Team (NET). Law enforcement “used social advertising sites to set up prostitution stings and reverse stings” at multiple locations that targeted “people advertising prostitution services and people seeking those services,” according to a NET press release. Twenty individuals were arrested as a result of the investigation, though law enforcement did not indicate how many of those arrested were attempting to purchase sex. The names of the offenders were also not initially publicized in police press releases, the names and photos of some defendants were covered in news reports as their cases were adjudicated.
In August 2017, eight people were arrested in the second phase of the Port Huron and Marysville police departments’ investigation into prostitution and human trafficking in the Blue Water Area. The Neighborhood Enforcement Team focus this phase on individuals advertising prostitution services and seeking those services that operate online. The locations of the stings varied from motels and hotels to private residences in the Port Huron and Marysville area. Undercover officers used social media sites to pose as both prostitutes and those seeking prostitution services. Those stings resulted in eight arrests , with one of those also being charged with carrying a concealed weapon. This second sting brought the total number of arrests in the operation to more than 30. Further stings were being planned at that time, and prostitution or engaging the use of a prostitute is a misdemeanor that carries a 93-day jail sentence and/or $500 fine in Michigan.
- Port Huron Police Department
- Marysville Police Department
- Michigan State Police
- U.S. Customs
- U.S. Border Patrol
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- “20 Arrested in Prostitution Sting in Port Huron, Marysville,” Port Huron Times Herald, November 11 2016.
- “Port Huron Police Arrest 20 People in Prostitution and Human Trafficking Sting,” ABC/WXYZ-TV 7, November 11 2016.
- https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/11/11/prostitution-sting-port-huron-marysville (2016)
- https://www.thetimesherald.com/story/news/crime/2017/08/09/prostitution-sting-nets-8-arrests (2017)
- https://www.thetimesherald.com/story/news/crime/2017/02/21/doctor-gets-probation-prostitution-bust (2017)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area: