A coordinated effort between state, local and federal law enforcement led to the recovery of 123 children in Wayne County, as well as three new human trafficking cases.
Officials from the United States Marshals Service say while the greater-Lansing area could see a sweep similar to what was done in metro-Detroit September 26, it would not happen for several months, as the investigations take some time.
Authorities say Wayne County was chosen because of the large number of runaway children reported there. But as human trafficking continues to be a dangerous program, more of these sweeps could happen across the state.
As scary as it seems, some children in Michigan are victims of human trafficking. But at least a few of them are safe, recently found in that missing juvenile sweep in Wayne County.
“Three of them had some…maybe some inkling of possibly being part of a human trafficking problem. so we’re kinda working with those three kids now to see if that’s true or not. we’re working with the FBI’s missing kids bureau,” 1st Lieutenant Michael Shaw with Michigan State Police said.
Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service say efforts like this happen a couple of times a year. In this case, the investigation started with around 800 files of missing children, ages 16 and under. That number was whittled down to around 300 before officers hit the streets.
“Just through investigation the locals had through their own department. finding out that kids returned back home, or were a victim of a homicide,” Shaw said.
Many kids reported missing were located right back where they belong.
“Most of these kids were at home,” Shaw said. “Either the foster care home or mom and dad may have reported the child missing. Then, when the kid comes back home later on, they’re just happy the child has returned home and they forget to make that connection back to law enforcement.”
And while officials are happy 123 children are accounted for, there’s still more work to be done. State police say around 1,000 kids are reported as runaways every week across Michigan.
“There’s still a lot of kids out there that we need to find,” Shaw said.