DETROIT (WWJ) — More than a dozen people were arrested throughout Metro Detroit last month in a sex trafficking sting during the North American International Auto Show.
The FBI and local police from about a dozen agencies were targeting human traffickers during the show, a time that officials say they find a 150 percent increase in individuals posting online solicitation messages on escort-type websites.READ MORE: 234,000-plus pounds of ham, pepperoni products recalled due to concerns of possible Listeria contamination
FBI Detroit spokesman Tim Wiley told WWJ’s Zahra Huber that 16 people were arrested, four pimps were identified and two children were recovered.
“There was a large influx of people coming into our area and so with that, we do see a trend of increased human trafficking that takes place,” Wiley said.READ MORE: More Michigan Firefighters With Cancer Eligible For Benefits
Wiley says there were 14 potential victims identified through the sting.
Federal agents say many of the females being trafficked during the auto show were minors. Police also identified five adult victims, while two young teens were recovered from sex trafficking rings.
Wiley says an increase in opioid abuse plays a big role in human trafficking.MORE NEWS: Michigan Gas Prices Continuing Downward
“Some of those pimps in the past may have had to use a lot of force or coercion to get someone to get involved in this human trafficking,” Wiley said. “Now — not so much — it might just be a drug addition. It might be something that was involved more in an online situation as well with all of the sexstortion and different types of opportunities people take.”