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Multi-county sting operation leads to 4 human trafficking arrests

The Genesee County Sheriff’s GHOST team partnered with the Saginaw County Sheriff to arrest multiple residents in a human trafficking case.
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 2:39 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - The Genesee County Sheriff’s GHOST team partnered with the Saginaw County sheriff to arrest multiple residents in a human trafficking case.

“I started receiving calls from people in Saginaw County saying, ‘hey, are you going to do what Sheriff Swanson is doing,’” Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel said.

Federspiel and Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson announced multiple arrests on Tuesday in a joint human trafficking operation.

“We start to see patterns of people who most don’t necessarily want to commit crimes in their own backyard. So they go to neighboring counties, which is why it’s so important when you started initiating the I-75 corridor that we work together because people will drive a long distance to commit these types of heinous rates,” Federspiel said.

Federspiel said he partnered with Swanson’s GHOST operation because it is an obligation to protect the most vulnerable residents.

The two-month operation, which resulted in the arrest of three individuals in Saginaw County and one from Bay County, was six months in the making. The joint operations also included the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and there will be more arrests announced Wednesday.

“We create what’s called a GHOST playbook, and it’s only for law enforcement. And it is eight modules that are recorded in a very similar setting as this is teaching and we have all of our PDFs downloaded. So, any sheriff, any chief, they can literally put in a request,” Swanson said. “And we send them the entire playbook.”

Federspiel said he wants to use the GHOST operation not only to capture predators but to also educate parents on how to protect their children.

He said with today’s technology, like video games and computers, individuals who prey on children have more access to get to them.

“We had a case where a 35-year-old man came from out of state and it was Illinois and drove to St. Charles of all places we just talked about, St. Charles and met with a girl that he met online, and she thought he was going to be a 17-year-old that was a worldly kid, and he’s a 35-year-old man,” Federspiel said.