Human trafficking becoming a growing issue in Metro Detroit

Yahoo Contributor Network

Metro Detroit is becoming a major hub for human trafficking, according to a report by the Detroit Free Press on Sunday, January 22. Authorities have stated that the frequency of incidents of human trafficking in the area is increasing at nearly the same rate as the illegal drug trade.

The problem reflects a growing issue in the United States as a whole, where human trafficking is estimated to have increased exponentially in the last few years. The issue prompted President Barack Obama to declare the month of January "National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month" back in December, according to USA Today.

Here is some of the latest information regarding human trafficking in Detroit and efforts to prevent it.

- Human trafficking cases are notoriously hard to prosecute. CNN reported that globally some 12.3 million people were estimated to have been the victims of human trafficking in 2009, yet only 4,166 cases were successfully prosecuted.

- The State Department has said that globally, human trafficking is one of the three most profitable criminal industries, along with illegal arms networks and the international drug trade.

- Detroit has seen a marked increase in the number of cases of human trafficking occurring in the city, to the point where there is now a specific clinic in Michigan that is dedicated only to helping such victims. The University of Michigan Law School's Human Trafficking Clinic opened in 2009, and it is the only clinic of its kind in the United States, according to its website.

- This past November brought one of the larger human trafficking cases in recent years, when five people were prosecuted for running an online prostitution ring known as "Detroit Pink" that used approximately two dozen people, including at least one minor, who had been transported to Detroit specifically to be forced into prostitution, according to the Daily Tribune.

- This past Saturday, January 21, the Detroit News reported that the Zion Christian Church in Troy, Michigan, along with the help of the FBI and the nonprofit group Women at Risk International, held a conference to boost awareness of the human trafficking problem in Metro Detroit as part of the church's larger "The Heart Campaign" initiative.

- FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold told attendees that the Metro Detroit-Toledo corridor has one of the highest incidence of human trafficking in the country, and that the majority of the victims are brought to Detroit from elsewhere.

- The problem is becoming so pervasive, even in Detroit suburbs like Southfield and Troy itself, that The Heart Campaign is planning on beginning a training program this summer for people who want to learn how to become rescuers.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.

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