Human Trafficking in Michigan

An editorial from Rep. Brian Banks
Thursday, May 16, 2013

As a state representative, it’s my job to understand the issues that are affecting my district. Often, I am surprised and saddened by many of the underground problems that exist in Michigan. This was no exception when last month, Attorney General Bill Schuette testified before the House Criminal Justice Committee on an epidemic many Michiganders are unaware of: human trafficking.

There are an estimated 30 million enslaved victims around the world who are being forced to commit acts of sex, physical labor and countless other atrocities. Many of these people are young children. Just as in the antebellum days of the American South, people are being born, bought and sold into slavery.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry in the world, and it is quickly growing. The trafficking of humans only trails the illegal movement of drugs. Sadly, both of these criminal activities are prevalent within and surrounding the city of Detroit. I worry for residents who have been subjected to this horrific crime, and I will work to make sure the perpetrators are caught and victims are allowed to heal.

Michigan has had anti-trafficking laws on the books since 2006, when Public Act 162 added chapter 67(A) to the Michigan Penal Code. Since that time, the attorney general has secured the convictions of five human traffickers operating in Michigan. To date, there are four open cases in various stages of litigation. Of these convictions, one Detroit man was found guilty on eight counts of human trafficking, and four members of the trafficking ring “Detroit Pink” are currently serving sentences. Michigan lawmakers are not letting people get away with this tragic crime, and I will make sure it stays that way.

Since PA 162 was passed, Schuette has created the first Attorney General Human Trafficking Unit. This commission includes members of the Michigan Legislature, law enforcement officials and anti-trafficking activists. I will work with this commission to make sure human trafficking is eliminated from our city.

To report any suspicious activity, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (202) 745-1001, or text concerns to 233733. And as always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding this issue as related to state government, please call my office toll-free at (888) 254-5291.