FLINT, MI – A 26-year-old man Flint was arrested on charges he assaulted his girlfriend with special needs in Genesee County.
The arrest came as part of a five-month operation launched earlier this year by the Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team, or GHOST, run through the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.
Genesee County Sheriff Lt. Dave Kennamer said he and an analyst monitor websites used for human trafficking and spotted a woman.
“Our analyst was able to identify what she believed to be a vulnerable adult that could have been being trafficked,” said Kennamer, noting the woman appeared disheveled, unkempt.
“The thing that stuck out to us…was her glasses,” said Kennamer. “They probably had an inch of tape holding them together.”
A date, time, and location was allegedly set up by Macala R. Vliet to meet for sex with the 26-year-old woman from the southern part of the state, whom he’d met online and began a relationship with, Kennamer said.
Swanson noted anyone forced to have sex with someone against their will is considered human trafficking.
“The most interesting phone call was the last one I received, and it was hurry up and get here because I have someone else lined up coming right behind you,” said Kennamer.
The group went from “custody to care” for the woman, Kennamer said, providing her a place to stay, medical needs, and counseling after Vliet’s arrest.
In speaking with the woman, Kennamer said police learned Vliet allegedly became “more and more violent” the longer the pair were together up to the point where “he was strangling her that she thought she was going to die.”
The glasses were broken when Vliet allegedly threw the woman against a mirror, Kennamer said.
Flint Optical Center aided in getting a new pair of glasses for the woman.
“When you take someone’s vision away from them, their humanity goes away from them,” said Kennamer. “A simple pair of glasses is the first step that she took in order to heal her life and give her that humanity back.”
The woman, whose name is not being released, is now in a safe place with family.
Vliet waived a preliminary exam Aug. 20 in Genesee District Court on assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and domestic violence charges.
The case has been bound over to Genesee Circuit Court.
Kraig Sippell, Vliet’s attorney, could not immediately be reached by MLive-The Flint Journal for comment.
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17 arrested in child-trafficking sweep in Genesee County
New police team to target human trafficking in Genesee County