Oakland County prosecutor plans human trafficking crackdown
Pontiac — Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced Tuesday she plans to put special attention on human trafficking in Oakland County.
McDonald said she has initiated, for the first time in Oakland County, a human trafficking division designed to prosecute anyone trying to prey on the most vulnerable, including women and children. McDonald was accompanied by Marc Keast, chief of the new trafficking section, and Madison Heights Police Chief Corey Haines, who has developed his own special unit to pursue human traffickers.
“I know that many people think human trafficking is something that only happens somewhere else; they think of women held against their will in a run-down neighborhood or some foreign country,” McDonald said.
“Let me be quite clear that that image is not accurate. This crime is happening right here in Oakland County," she said. "These are cases in which we have teenage girls being trafficked into prostitution, children exploited in the worst way imaginable by adults who trade their bodies for cash.”
McDonald noted two people — Lavonte R. Sampson of Harper Woods and Chrystal M. Forgays of Warren — were arrested earlier this month in connection with human trafficking of victims out of a Madison Heights motel.
Both suspects were arrested by Detroit Police in that city one day after McDonald announced arrest warrants had been issued.
They are charged in Madison Heights District Court with human trafficking of a minor for commercial sexual activity; conducting a criminal enterprise; two counts of transportation of another person for purpose of prostitution; accepting earnings from prostitution; human trafficking enterprise and computer crime. Sampson is held in lieu of $300,000 bond and Forgays on $250,000 bond.
A third suspect, Carl Lorenzo Perkins of Detroit, remains at large. Anyone with information of his whereabouts is asked to contact the Madison Heights Police Department at (248) 585-2100, Haines said.
The criminal warrants resulted from several months of investigation by the Madison Heights Police Special Investigations Unit, which has focused on human trafficking for three years following reports of criminal activity in several motels in that suburb.
McDonald said her office has been contacted by several police agencies in Oakland County interested in pursuing the crime, which she said "is in every community" and exacerbated by people being isolated during the pandemic.
McDonald stressed her office is dedicated to provide a “way out” for every person being abused or exploited. She said anyone who may know of someone who needs help should call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 or text "HELP" to 233733.
“And to every man or woman who is currently engaged in sex trafficking — or considering engaging in this crime — know that we will find you, and we will ensure you face justice,” McDonald said.