Couple charged in sex trafficking of runaway girl - WNEM TV 5

Couple charged in sex trafficking of runaway girl

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Meleney Pully (Source: Saginaw County Sheriff's Dept) Meleney Pully (Source: Saginaw County Sheriff's Dept)
Melvin Pully Jr.  (Source: Saginaw County Sheriff's Dept) Melvin Pully Jr. (Source: Saginaw County Sheriff's Dept)
SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

A Mid-Michigan couple are now charged with human sex trafficking.

The case comes as a shock to the community and is offering a stark reminder that human trafficking is a real problem that knows no border or city limit.

"The two suspects were able to gain her trust. In doing so they exploited her,” Saginaw Sheriff William Federspiel said.

Federspiel said 37-year-old Meleney Pully and 56-year-old Melvin Pully, Jr. forced a runaway girl who was under the age of 17 into prostitution to feed their drug habit.

The suspects were arrested Tuesday afternoon at the Miller Motel in Bridgeport Township where they were living.

Officials said in early February they received a tip about a minor female being trafficking for commercial sexual activity. The girl was traded from a home in Saginaw, as well as hotels in Bridgeport and Saginaw Township, police said.

"It was crucial. Without that tip this may still be going on. The victim may have been victimized numerous times since the time we were able to intervene on her behalf. So, tips are very important. I want the public to know they do not go uncalled,” Federspiel said.

Jessica Gregory with the Bay Area Women's Center said it's important for victims to know there are many local groups in the area to help.

"There is lots of resources whether we know it or not. The women's center is one resource that can help people in our area. We also have in Saginaw County the Underground Railroad,” Gregory said.

Federspiel said both suspects now face 20 year felonies if convicted. Both are being held on a $250,000 bond.

"Our goal is to make sure that our victim is OK and the suspects are prosecuted,” he said.

Police said the victim is recovering and has been reunited with her biological mother.

The Underground Railroad has also been offering training sessions with local hotels so they can red flag and prevent this type of thing from happening again.

Sex trafficking in the United States

Many people don't think human trafficking is a big problem in the United States, but unfortunately, that is not true.

Statistics will vary from organization to organization because of the secretive nature of human trafficking. The sad reality, though, is there's no way of telling just how many people are affected.

Some of the latest estimates by ZOE International finds more than 20 million people worldwide are enslaved by human trafficking.

Of that 20 million, at least 14,000 are brought into the United States each year.

Experts say the human trade brings in $32 billion a year.

If you believe you know someone being held against their will, you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. 

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