An inside look at Oakland County’s human trafficking unit

Hotels with access to highways used by traffickers

Inside Oakland County's crackdown on human trafficking

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald is focusing on cracking down on human trafficking with a newly formed human trafficking unit.

Marc Keast heads the unit. Keast said the highway hotel human trafficking loop is real in Oakland County. Hotels that have easy access to highways are frequent spots where human traffickers bring their victims.

“If they can find a lot of businesses in one area they will set up shop in one particular motel for a week or two weeks at a time. When they start to feel that there’s too much attention, they’re being noticed too much, they’ll pack up and move. And that’s what makes it harder for law enforcement to identify as well,” Keast said.

READ: New Oakland County human trafficking unit makes arrests in Madison Heights

In February Local 4 reported on recent crackdowns thanks to the unit.

Lavonte Sampson of Harper Woods and Chrystal Forgays of Warren were both charged with seven felony counts in a human trafficking case in Madison Heights. Carl Perkins is also a suspect in the case and has not been apprehended.

“We’re hoping that as this human trafficking unit moves forward, and we get the word out to local police departments about the cases we want to prosecute it will start to devote more resources to this issue,” Keast said.

The Oakland County human trafficking unit is back at work tracking down some new leads in other cases.

READ: More Defenders coverage

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.