Human trafficking is a problem nationwide — and Northern Michigan is not immune.
“When we left our subdivision we saw police cars just kind of sitting around. Ya know? So we knew that they were watching for somebody,” Jean Tornga says police busted a group of men soliciting people right in her neighborhood near Houghton Lake.
“The really scary part for us- there are young children. Probably ages 6-12 that go around. They play in the neighborhood all the time. And none of us thought that anything like this could happen,” Tornga added.
Now, a community group wants to get ahead of the problem and educate neighbors about human trafficking.
“Our mission is to spread that human trafficking is occurring. And what is human trafficking and what can we do about it,” says Human Trafficking Community Group chairperson, Deborah Williams.
The group says that the biggest problem is that people do not know it is happening so close to home.
Michigan State Police Trooper, Brian Koboldt said, “It affects every demographic. It affects everybody.”
Deborah Williams says, “Hopefully our group has had some impact on educating people on human trafficking. What it is and what to watch for. Because it does occur in our community.”
Koboldt says everyone needs to be aware that they could be a victim.
“We just had a sex trafficking incident happen here within the Houghton Lake Post area here just last week.”
Trooper Koboldt also says traffickers are becoming more difficult to pin down because of the internet.
Michigan State Police ask that if you suspect someone is in danger, call 911.
Follow this link for human trafficking safety tips direct from the National Trafficking Hotline: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/faqs/safety-planning-information