Tag Archive: Detroit

Documentary Made In Metro Detroit Focuses On Demand Of Human Trafficking

March 10, 2022

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A new movie about human trafficking made right here in metro Detroit has now been released to the public.

The movie called “Men Who Buy Sex” was made by the Wayne County Medical Society Foundation and Digital Media Works. It focuses on the demand side of human trafficking, hoping to bring an end to the epidemic.

The film may be new, but the problem is not. Sex trafficking has existed in metro Detroit for decades, and experts say it’s still happening every day.

“Absolutely, human trafficking is something that is happening every day,” said Amy Allen, a forensic interview specialist with Homeland Security Investigations. “We know there are lots of youth and women being trafficked every day here in the metro Detroit area.”

Allen is based out in metro Detroit and works with sex trafficking victims in the region. She says many of them report being trafficked up to 12 or 13 times a day to paying customers.

“The demand side of trafficking has really been something that hasn’t been talked about that much,” Allen said.

Read the full article by Brett Kast on WXYZ Detroit.

Human Trafficking Survivor Partners With FBI To Help Others

April 20, 2021

DETROIT (FOX 2) – A human trafficking survivor is sharing her story after she said she was charmed and groomed into a trusting relationship that led to multiple sexual assaults.

Nicole Denson is a survivor and activist. She met the man who trafficked her on her 16th birthday. That was 21 years ago at the old Northland Mall in Southfield. While she’s escaped, she’s looking back and knows that it was her vulnerable state that led to her fall into the human trafficking world.

“One day really changed my life forever. I was in an accident with my father and he was critically injured, he died. He was killed,” said Nicole.

A vulnerable state

She grew up in a loving home on Detroit’s west side but it was complex. She says there was physical and emotional abuse. With the sudden loss of her dad, Denson remembers the things she found joy in were gone.

“I remember I just stopped loving doing all of the things that I was doing. I stopped dancing, laughing. I just felt numb,” said Denson.

She was ripe with grief when she met her trafficker and she said he approached her like any other guy and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

“He was very charming, he was charismatic. He really seemed like he wanted to get to know me,” she said. “It wasn’t like anything that would give a red flag like you’ve seen in the movies. It wasn’t like the movie ‘Taken’ which is like a movie that people think (when they think of human trafficking). It actually happened very gradually and very slow.”

The relationship changes

Eventually, he became her boyfriend but the entire time he was grooming her and gaining her trust. Then it all changed.

“I walked into this house. It was loud music, there was smoking and drinking and there were over 15 to 20 different men. I remember my heart started racing and I said ‘oh my goodness, what am I doing, what is happening’,” said Denson. “I was trembling. I’m even trembling as I tell this.”

Just like that, SHE was having sex so HE could money. For more than a year, he passed her around at house parties and hotels – all while she still went to private school and played her other roles as a daughter and friend.

“One of the most lowest points was when I was driven to his friend’s house and, unfortunately, I didn’t know that there would be a camera there. At the age of 16 I was sexually assaulted via camera,” said Nicole.

Now he had leverage to control her and to do the unthinkable. Then, suddenly, it just stopped.

“One day, I was supposed actually to go into a house and forced to do these acts. He had a change of heart and decided to drop me off instead, at home. He cried and said he was sorry and I said it’s okay. After that, I never heard from him again.”

Read the full story by Jessica Dupnack on Fox 2 Detroit.

New Oakland County Human Trafficking Unit Busts Sex Ring In Madison Heights

March 23, 2021

Sampson was issued a $300,000 cash bond and ordered to have no contact with victims, witnesses or codefendants, and to wear an electronic tether. Forgays was issued a $250,000 cash bond with the same conditions.

Human trafficking is a form of forced labor involving coercion, fraud or threats, usually to obtain commercial sex acts. Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald, who unseated the county’s incumbent prosecutor Jessica Cooper in last year’s Democratic primary, and was elected in November, said the arrests coincide with her department’s fresh targeting of human trafficking. McDonald spoke Tuesday at a news conference at her offices in Pontiac, joined by Madison Heights Police Chief Corey Haines.

“I am proud to have inaugurated the first-ever human trafficking unit within the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office as one of my very first acts in office,” McDonald said.

The new trafficking unit “will enable us to more nimbly confront the scourge of human trafficking within Oakland County, as this case demonstrates,” she said. Some may be shocked to learn that human trafficking occurs amid the affluence of Oakland County, McDonald added.

“Many people think human trafficking is something that only happens somewhere else. But let me be clear that this crime is happening right here in Oakland County. These are cases in which we have young women — girls as young as 9, we’ve found  — being trafficked into prostitution. Children are being exploited in the worst way imaginable, by adults who trade their bodies for cash,” she said.

Read the full story by Bill Laitner on The Detroit Free Press

Program Launched To Aid Foreign-Born Trafficking Victims In Detroit

May 20, 2020

Detroit — Foreign-born trafficking victims in Metro Detroit can now find sanctuary through an assistance program launched by a Grand Rapids-based family service organization.

After Bethany Christian Services’ success with the Trafficking Victim’s Assistance Program in West Michigan, it decided to replicate its model, opening offices in Detroit and New Jersey.

Karen Hanks, the coordinator of the program, said the organization has seen a spike in cases in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties where victims are often hidden in plain sight.

“Labor trafficking cases are often overlooked for a variety of reasons,” said Hanks, who has been working with the program since May. “All of the cases we currently have are all labor trafficking, almost exclusively to foreign nationals, who come here on a false promise and are vulnerable.”

Those at the highest risk of trafficking are immigrants here illegally, migrant workers, or foreign-born persons solicited into coming to the United States to pursue education or work opportunities. Hanks said it’s very difficult for a U.S. citizen to be pulled into labor trafficking because they know their rights and find opportunities to seek help, whereas a foreigner is already vulnerable and may not know English.

“It’s much easier to trick them and they may end up in a situation they don’t even realize,” she said. “It’s people who often come here illegally, but it shouldn’t make a difference when people are being exploited.”

Because foreign nationals don’t qualify for federal programs, Hanks said it’s difficult to locate safe housing, funding and help with re-entry. Bethany’s program is focused on helping victims return to a normal life at no cost.

They aid with counseling services, food, clothing, housing, employment and family reunification when possible. The program is funded and overseen by a grant from the U.S. Committee of Refugees and Immigrants and is time and financially limited to one year.

To read the full article by Sarah Rahal on The Detroit News: Click Here

Lawsuit Claims Detroit, Ann Arbor Hotels Ignored Signs Of Human Trafficking

February 24, 2020

A lawsuit laid out grisly details. The survivor in this lawsuit was 17 years old when she was first kidnapped (by a stranger at school), driven to a hotel and imprisoned there. Her story is not unique. The lawsuit contends that there are 1,500 human trafficking victims pointing the finger at 12 of the nations largest hotel chains, saying they should have seen the signs of trafficking going on right under their nose and done something to stop it.

Tiffany Ellis is representing the survivor in the lawsuit. The lawsuit contends that the trafficker took her right through the front doors of Detroit’s Holiday Inn Express and Ann Arbor’s Fairfield Inn to a rented room.

Each time she said there wouldn’t be any eye-contact with hotel staff, she didn’t carry any identification and didn’t have luggage. She said she was held captive, chained inside the hotel rooms in and out of consciousness. When she did wake up she said there would be evidence and pain that indicated she had been raped, but she didn’t have a memory of it.

Ellis said the woman survived one particularly gruesome rape with numerous incidents of violence that should have alerted the staff that something was going on. Ellis said the woman went to the front desk of the hotel with blood running down her legs and police weren’t called. The survivor is suing the hotels were she was trafficked between 2003 and 2008.

“She would stay for days at a time in the hotel in Ann Arbor, not come out of her room, exhibited signs of fear and anxiety was often skimpily clothed and exhibited signs of bruising on her arms and legs,” Ellis said. “There were incidents of violence there as well, rather it occurred in the room or in the hallways they should have heard through hotel security, through their guests at the hotel or even their security cameras.”

Survivors and others want to stop hotels being a haven for sex traffickers to conduct business.

“Despite all of those opportunities to see what was happening, they just kept accepting the money for the rooms,” Ellis said. “Approximately eight out of 10 arrested for any type of human trafficking occur in the countries largest hotel chains.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Marriott International are named in the Detroit lawsuit. Those are the companies representing the Holiday Inn Express and Fairfield Inn where she said she was trafficked.

The Local 4 Defenders discovered other survivors are suing other hotel chains around the country. Twelve hotel chains are named in lawsuits filed across the country, including names like Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Red Roof Inn, and more. Ellis said those hotels should have spotted the red flags.

To read the full story by Karen Drew and Kayla Clarke on Click On Detroit: Click Here

Nurse Practitioner Student Creates Screening To Identify Human Trafficking Victims

February 14, 2019

At the moment, Michigan might be best known for the extreme cold temperatures, snow, and ice it is facing, but to Danielle Jordan Bastein, an ER nurse at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan is also known for something far more dangerous:

Human trafficking. 

But now, thanks to a new screening protocol that she implemented while a student at Wayne State University, Bastein is fighting back — and working to help trafficked individuals before it’s too late. 

What Does Human Trafficking Have to Do with Hospitals? 

In an article with Fox 2 News Detroit, Bastein explained that a large majority of trafficked individuals come into contact with health care workers at some point during their trafficking, but shockingly, very few of them are actually identified by healthcare staff. One study found that approximately half of all trafficked individuals (mostly women and female children) do see a healthcare worker at some point during their exploitation. In fact, healthcare workers are the most likely of any profession to come into initial contact with a trafficked girl or woman, so even the National Conference of State Legislatures has identified healthcare workers as a key first-line defense against trafficking. 

So, what are we missing here? 

Well, in Bastein’s eyes, we are missing out on crucial screening protocol and training that would ensure that emergency room triage nurses are able to routinely ask the right questions and do the right assessment that would flag a potential trafficking victim for further follow-up. Her screening tool looks for patterns of inconsistencies in the patient’s story, abuse, torture, or neglect signs, and other behaviors consistent with trafficking victims, such as if they aren’t holding their own ID or money, or if the person they are with is answering questions for them and refuses to leave or let them be alone.

To read the full story by Chaunie Brusie on Nurse.org: Click Here