Human Trafficking in Detroit Leads to Concern, Shock

By Anton Mikolowski

The Tower (Grosse Pointe, Michigan)

With the recent discovery of a human trafficking ring in Detroit this past October, discussion of the issue has taken off both statewide and nationally.

With Michigan ranking at number two in human trafficking rates, behind only Nevada, Gov. Rick Snyder issued a statement cracking down on it in order to prevent the abduction of juveniles.

“It is unacceptable that a dangerous and appalling practice like human trafficking continues to be a prevalent problem across our state and nation,” Snyder said during the statement.

In doing so, signed in Public Act 325 in order to create a new commission within the Wayne County Sheriff Department- The Human Trafficking Commission, dedicated to the resolution of human trafficking in Michigan.

The Commission includes the pooling of information and data concerning human trafficking, according to their mission statement, and raising public awareness in order to hopefully bring it to a stop.

Yet such situations are delicate and strange, school social worker and counselor Douglas Roby said via email.

“There is a significant mystery behind human trafficking, as it so often goes unreported,” Roby said.

Some of this mystery, however, can be attributed to fear within individuals victimized by trafficking, according to Roby.

“The manipulation and control over the person being trafficked is the root of the problem. The individuals involved can be deprived of the majority of life’s necessities like food and clothing, and they live in fear,” Roby said.

This basis around necessities has proven to be a significant reason for trafficking, for many of those children between 13-17 whom were taken by their traffickers were poor without any resources or families to provide

Emma Clutterbuck ’16, who had worked on an anti-human trafficking ad for South’s Photography class recognized this, and said human trafficking is an issue that not enough people have been paying attention to.

“There are a lot of ads for smoking or drinking, things that people think they can do, things about when they see them, or help themselves in some way,” Clutterbuck said, “(Yet), I feel like human trafficking is a topic that isn’t addressed enough.”

Clutterbuck said human trafficking is becoming such a big issue in America because of how often it is ignored and unreported.

“A lot of people think that it is just foreigners or people in other countries, but it in America, and it is happening here too,” Clutterbuck said.

She learned also, during her project for Photography that it had become a relatively local issue, and was occurring frequently in Detroit.

“It is a super close to home issue, and not enough people realize that,” Clutterbuck said.

Yet at the same time, it is difficult to see how exactly human trafficking is happening, according to Roby.

“It is difficult to find how individuals fall into it, but the manipulation and control are the root of it,” Roby said, “It is (also) difficult to identify all the repercussions of human trafficking, but it can shatter a life,” Roby said.

In order to prevent tragedies such as this, Carl Griffin ’17, who notes that human trafficking is consistently done in immigrant communities, believes that a federal authorization should be put out to allow increased immigrant quotas in America in order for less trafficking-for-immigration to take place.

“(We should) increase the amount of immigrants we take in each year to allow for less people to have to be trafficked to get into our country,” Griffin said.

Griffin does, however, fear for the safety of those being trafficked, for even if they were to contact human trafficking resources, such as the Human Trafficking Commission or Homeland Security, there is a potential of deportation.

“If they seek help they are just going to be shipped back to their own country,” Griffin said.

And while this is a problem it is not something that many believe they can do anything about, Roby said.

Roby urges anyone who has any information on human trafficking to contact authorities or an adult immediately.

Sources to contact, such as Roby mentioned, would be organizations such as the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, based in Lansing to combat the influx of trafficking in Michigan

The official mission statement of The Human Trafficking Task Force is to offer a “collaborative effort to identify and rescue victims, prosecute offenders, restore victims, and educate,” according to Director Jane White of Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice.


Image Credit: Unsplash

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (

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