KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — You may have heard about human trafficking. But what is it, exactly, and how prevalent is it in West Michigan?
“It is prevalent,” said Sgt. Scott Morrison with Michigan State Police. “We do have complaints that come in at park ‘n’ rides or in rest areas.”
Human trafficking may sound like a problem happening in a developing country, but Morrison says it happens in our own backyard.
“It’s a reusable product,” explained Morrison. “It isn’t like narcotics.”
What do human traffickers in West Michigan look like?
“It could be an aunt, it could be an uncle, it could be a parent, it could be a close friend,” Morrison said.
Cathy Knauf is the founder and director of the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force. She and Morrison both say human traffickers manipulate the most vulnerable, oftentimes young people or even children looking for validation or just a place to call home.