Michigan AG Nessel urges awareness of signs of human trafficking

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center receives anonymous tips by text at 233733

LANSING – Following her announcement Tuesday of labor trafficking charges against three small business operators in Western Michigan, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel wants to raise awareness about the signs of human trafficking and remind residents of the resources available for both victims as those who suspect human trafficking in their community. .

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime that continues across the United States, including here in Michigan,” Nessel said.

“Traffickers exploit men, women and children and force them into labor, sex work and domestic servitude. These victims are often subjected to coercion, violence and threats to keep them captive and generate profit for their captors. By recognizing the signs of human trafficking, we can all play a role in helping victims get the support they desperately need. Remember: if you see something, say something. It could save someone’s life.”

Human trafficking can take many forms, including forced labor and sexual exploitation. Labor trafficking occurs in many different markets that consumers may not suspect, such as convenience stores, nail salons, massage parlors, agriculture and restaurants. Those who are trafficked often do not even realize they are victims of human trafficking or do not know how to get help.

Victims of human trafficking can:

  • Show signs of abuse, including bruises, cuts, burns, or scars,
  • Not having control over their own money or documents, including their driver’s license or passport,
  • Avoid eye contact with others and appear to be afraid of the person they are with.
  • Not allowed to communicate on his or her own behalf, another person can answer all questions on his or her behalf,
  • Not being from the area or knowing where they are, or
  • Don’t admit that they are a victim and don’t ask for help.

The Attorney General leads the fight against human trafficking in Michigan by prosecuting criminal cases under state law prohibiting human trafficking in Michigan, and works with law enforcement task forces through the Human Trafficking Unit to end human trafficking in the state. Department attorneys also provide training for law enforcement and prosecutors and work with community members and advocates to raise awareness about this crime.

Additionally, the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission was created in 2015 when the Human Trafficking Commission Act of 2014 became law. The Commission consists of nine members appointed by the Governor and includes representatives from the Department of Attorney General, Michigan State Police, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Assistant Attorney General Melissa Palepu is the current chair of the Commission.

The mission of the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission, as set forth in the Human Trafficking Commission Act of 2014, includes:

  • Identifying sources of grants that will assist in investigating and combating human trafficking in this state and applying for these grants as needed.
  • Funding research programs to determine the extent and nature of human trafficking in Michigan.
  • Providing information and training on human trafficking to:

    • Police officers
    • Prosecutors
    • Court staff
    • Healthcare providers
    • Social services staff
    • Other persons as the committee deems appropriate

  • Collecting and analyzing information about human trafficking in Michigan
  • Identifying state and local agencies in Michigan and other states, as well as within the federal government, involved in human trafficking issues and coordinating the dissemination of information about human trafficking in Michigan to those agencies.
  • Reviewing existing services available to assist victims of human trafficking, including crime victim assistance, health care and legal assistance, and establishing a program to increase these victims’ awareness of the services available to them.
  • Establishing a program to improve public awareness of human trafficking. Reviewing existing state laws and administrative regulations regarding human trafficking and making recommendations to the Legislature to improve those laws and regulations to address human trafficking violations in Michigan.

Commission meetings are held in the Williams Building at 525 W. Ottawa Street in downtown Lansing and can also be accessed remotely via Microsoft Teams. The Commission invites human trafficking survivors, advocacy groups, law enforcement partners and members of the public to participate in their upcoming meetings scheduled for:

  • Wednesday May 22
  • Wednesday July 31
  • Wednesday September 25
  • Wednesday November 13th

Victims of human trafficking or people who have identified someone they believe needs help can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888 or text 233733. This is a national, toll-free hotline available is to answer calls, texts and chats anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. All conversations are confidential.

Additional information about the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Initiative, including updated state laws prohibiting human trafficking, is available on the Attorney General’s website.