Genesee Co. residents arrested for trafficking children on dark web
WARNING: Details included in this story may be considered graphic.
GENESEE CO., Mich. (WNEM) - Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson announced the arrest of four people accused of taking part in human trafficking and distributing child porn through the dark web.
Swanson said in late winter of 2022, the Department of Homeland Security partnered with GHOST to investigate a case involving child porn in Grand Blanc Township.
During the investigation, officials were led to a house on Chatham Lane Drive in Grand Blanc Township, where they received jurisdiction to seize child porn from the location, Swanson said. The search warrant they used to seize the material was also used to arrest 36-year-old Preston Creed Boehm.
The investigation revealed Boehm was the orchestrator of manufacturing and distributing child porn out of the house, where he would use the child porn as currency with other people on the dark web, according to Swanson.
”This dark web that we speak of, this is a layer below the internet that predators and pedophiles, they seek and they find others throughout the country and around the world. They use the child pornography as that currency to give and receive. That’s the evil of what we’re talking about,” Swanson said.
GHOST then executed another search warrant on a house in Burton on Dec. 20, 2022. That search led to the arrest of three Burton residents in connection with Boehm’s operation.
Crystal Benton, 42, Nicholas Dunn, 41, and Joshua Hippensteel, 45, were arrested.
Dunn and Burton were engaged, and Hippensteel was living in the basement of the Burton house and was in a relationship with Boehm, Swanson said.
From 2018 until now, the three of them were taking care of four children ages 14, 10, 10, and 5, Swanson said.
“What they did as four adults, who were charged with taking care of children, they exploited the children,” he said.
The suspects exploited the children, groomed, and drugged them to monetize their sexual acts, Swanson said, adding the suspects groomed the children with THC-laced gummy candy. According to Swanson, the suspects got the kids so drugged that the children were unable to defend themselves.
He said the situations the children had to go through were disgusting.
”There was one statement made of candy that was used not to just drug and groom, but to put bodily fluids in a pack of M&M’s and watch the children eat that. Like who does that?! Evil does that,” Swanson said.
The house in Burton was the epicenter for the human trafficking ring, Swanson said, adding that it was where all the child porn was manufactured and distributed to the Grand Blanc Township residence which was then distributed to the dark web by Boehm.
Boehm has been charged federally.
Benton has been charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of child sexually abusive activity, and one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes. She has a cash surety bond of $75,000 and her next hearing is June 27 for a preliminary examination.
Dunn has been charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of child sexually abusive activity, and one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes. He has a cash surety bond of $75,000 and his next hearing is also June 27 for a preliminary examination.
Hippensteel has been charged with one count of child sexually abusive activity and one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes. He also has a cash surety bond of $75,000 and his next hearing is also June 27 for a preliminary examination.
Swanson said the investigation is still in progress, stating he believes more people are involved and there are more victims.
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