DETROIT – An undercover operation was launched to rescue a teenage girl who was being sold for sex in a motel room.
Police said the person who trafficked the teenage girl is waiting to learn if he will spend the rest of his life in prison. Federal authorities said he claimed to have the “blueprint for success.”
The criminal complaint outlines how text messages, hundreds of ads for sex and his own Facebook posts led to the man’s arrest. Investigators said Reginald Ranier Milton went on Facebook with a wad of cash to show “just how profitable his business could be.”
Police said Milton was selling minors for sex and posted explicit ads. Federal court documents said the investigation into Milton uncovered more than 800 ads for commercial sex. Investigators said Milton “constructed his so-called success using a 17-year-old girl, forcing her to sell her body for his own profit and violently abusing her when she refused to do what he wanted.”
Police said Milton did it for months in 2018, and the girl was injured so severely she was sent to a hospital twice. Court documents reveal the man used several phones to advertise the teenage girl, communicate with her and capture and share explicit videos of her. He also reportedly recruited other women into the world of prostitution.
Milton was arrested during an undercover operation at the Cranbrook House Motel in Detroit. He pled guilty to sex trafficking of a minor.
“We have to send a serious message to that defendant, who is a danger to the public, that, ‘You need to go away in federal prison for decades,’” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said.
Schneider is seeking a 30-year prison sentence for Milton. As part of his plea deal, Milton must serve a minimum of 10 years.
A report by the Human Trafficking Institute said Michigan ranks eighth in the nation for the number of defendants convicted of human trafficking.
“One reason that this report is really a useful tool is it shows common human trafficking schemes from traffickers recruitment tactics to the type of tracking and the industries where it takes place to the course of tactics they that they use to control their victims,” Attorney Kyleigh Feehs said.
Across the country in 2019, only six percent of all human trafficking cases being prosecuted were forced labor cases. There were none in Michigan.
“One of the reasons for this is they’re just very difficult to investigate,” Feehs said.
Schneider said he’d like to see an end to human trafficking cases.
“If you’re engaging in this kind of conduct, law enforcement’s not going to look the other way. We’re going to be following you, coming after you, and bringing justice to the victims,” Schneider said.
The national report also said the number of new human trafficking cases is down. Schneider said that’s not entirely accurate, his office has recently brought additional cases that are not included in the report and have investigations under seal.
Milton is expected to appear in court again in December. He is scheduled for a competency hearing and will be sentenced in February.