DETROIT, Mich. — A major nationwide FBI bust took down 150 people accused of trafficking children for sex, and more than one third of those arrests occurred in southeastern Michigan.
A spokesperson for the FBI says 59 people were arrested in a four county region in and around Detroit. The FBI says Operation Cross Country was one of the most significant busts in quite some time.
Field offices nationwide launched a 72-hour nationwide operation in 76 cities.
One-hundred-five teens were rescued ranging in age from 13 to 17-years-old with the youngest being just 9.
“Trafficking is slavery. It’s this century’s version of slavery,” said Rebecca McDonald, the founder of Women At Risk International of Grand Rapids.
W.A.R. is an organization that helps women and children worldwide that have been forced into the sex trade.
“You sell 100 lbs of drugs, there are results and consequences if you get caught,” said McDonald. “But, you sell a 100 lb child over and over and over and over again and there are very few consequences.”
McDonald says West Michigan is the second most active part of the state for trafficking.
“Grand Rapids MI is the second highest city in MI for 911 trafficking calls after Detroit,” said McDonald.
She says it’s important for parents to remember that not all children that fall into the hands of predators are runaways.
“The more conservative a community, the more we create a bubble around our children of innocence where they don’t know what’s coming at them,” said McDonald.
There is one specific way that pimps take advantage of children that McDonald wants parents to be aware of.
“One of their ways of doing it is compliments and a child in a mall for example, takes a compliment from somebody,” said McDonald. “They interviewed men and they said if they gave a girl a compliment, if she said thank you or really or smiled to a man, they would stalk her. If she said ‘eww’, they would leave her alone.”
“West Michigan needs to wake up as well and create safe places around their children,” said McDonald.
W.A.R. has educational programs to teach the community about the hidden dangers of the sex trade and other risk factors women encounter.
For more information, visit the W.A.R. website at this link: