Detroit area law enforcement ready for rise in human trafficking

Local law enforcement agencies are gearing up for a potential spike in  human trafficking.

Sadly, big events like the Detroit North American International Auto Show attracts pimps and prostitutes - some of the girls in their teens.

One man is trying to stop what he calls sexual slavery.

"Detroit is a major hub because we're near Canada and Toledo and were a hub for trafficking here in the U.S.," said Mel Baggett

Baggett is with an organization called All Worthy of Love or AWOL, based in Detroit.

"Our mission is to break up the sex trafficking dynamic," he said.

He describes it as a system. That starts with recruiting. The traffickers typically look for girls with no strong male role models in their lives - essentially filling a void.

"(It) starts with showing affection and spending money on them," Baggett said. "That quickly dissipates  and the slavery becomes control."

A majority of the victims come from the foster care system - and the predators know right where to find them.

"The malls are the gateway," Baggett said. "The gateway where women and men become victims to human trafficking. And ultimately they get used up in the process of slavery and they end up on the streets and that's where we meet them."

And if you think your community is immune to this practice, he says you are wrong. Human trafficking happens everywhere - from Detroit to Birmingham.  Experts say they prey on girls ages 11 to 14 years old.

Once the victims are groomed the traffickers are looking for opportunity. Large events like the auto show for example provide plenty of room for criminal activity.

"Traffickers know that it is a time where prostitution can flourish," Baggett said. "What happens is they move them into hotels and can service attendees of the auto show."

Michigan State Police say they are aware of this and various tactics will be used to stop the sex trafficking. But there are ways to help.

"We need to keep an eye out so we can call for help," Baggett said. "And All Worthy of Love is one of the agencies that can help."

For more information on All Worthy of Love, CLICK HERE.

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