PORT HURON, Mich. – Twenty people have been arrested for sex crimes by the Port Huron Police Department in the first phase of an investigation into prostitution and human trafficking in the Blue Water area.
Police said the neighborhood enforcement team has been investigating prostitution and human trafficking cases that were operating on social advertising sites like Backpage.com.
NET focused stings on advertising prostitution services, which varied in location, including hotels, motels and private residences in the Port Huron and Marysville areas.
Undercover officers used social advertising sites to set up prostitution stings and reverse stings of those seeking people looking for the services of a prostitute. The stings resulted in 20 arrests.
Investigators are still looking into human trafficking leads that were uncovered during the investigations. Further stings are being planned, police said.
Prostitution in the past was primarily conducted by streetwalkers, police said. But with the use of computers and online sites, it has become a mostly online issue with very little open-air solicitation.
The Local 4 Defenders spoke with FBI agents about the evolving world of prostitution and pimps online. You can read the full story here.
Prostitution or engaging the use of a prostitute is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.
The team performing the stings is made up of officers from the Port Huron Police Department, the Marysville Police Department, Michigan State Police, U.S. Customs and the U.S. Border Patrol.