Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson released more information and names related to last Friday’s GHOST Sting Operation.
According to Swanson, eight people from the Mid-Michigan area were arrested and are awaiting charges.
“These are offenders that are very cunning,” Swanson said.
Swanson said all the suspects are from different backgrounds. From maintenance workers and a local firefighter, all caught by the sheriff’s GHOST Strike Team.
The suspects are accused of using the dark web to search for underage victims for sexual encounters.
“These are offenders that use their ability to live as I said among society but seek out children to have sex with. And treat them like property,” Swanson said.
The suspects are from all over. They are from Flint, Lapeer, and Burton.
“This arrest is Matthew Hyde, a 40-year-old occupation firefighter out of Burton,” Swanson said.
Matthew Hyde, a Burton Firefighter, and Union President were among the eight arrested last week. He was found with two guns, a police badge, and other identification that was not related to his actual job.
Swanson said they located Hyde through two separate police chatter groups trying to speak with a 14-year-old girl.
Burton Mayor Duane Haskins said Hyde has been suspended and that this arrest does not define his city’s first responders.
“We will demand integrity. We will demand honor, and we will deal with people that doesn’t or do not want to handle that in the fashion they should,” Haskins said.
Swanson said one man, Thomas Trinklien was found with more than 1,000 child pornographic images on him when he was arrested in March.
Swanson said Trinklien is being charged with 16 felonies and expects more charges soon.
“Human trafficking is the fastest-growing enterprise in the world today,” Swanson said. “I’m hoping that this generates conversation at your dinner tables, at restaurants, at businesses where you talk about what’s the next step. What can I do? You can educate so you can be aware.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 2, Swanson announced the arrest of John Rodgers, 25, a store clerk who was arrested for trying to pay for sex with a 14-year-old girl.
Swanson said detectives chatted with Rodgers on the dark web. He said Rodgers asked why the girl was doing it, and the detective responded that she needed money.
Swanson said Rodgers then agreed to meet the girl for sex.
Rodger was arrested and arraigned in the Genesee County Jail. He is being charged with accosting a minor and using a computer to commit a crime.
Swanson is urging families to make it their business to be in other people’s business if they care. He feels this will help cut down on human trafficking.