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Mid-Michigan sheriffs collaborate on child trafficking sting

Brett Dahlberg
Mid-Michigan law enforcement officers describe a sting operation that they say nabbed three people trying to have sexual contact with a minor on Tuesday.

Sheriff departments in mid-Michigan have arrested six men who tried to engage in child sex trafficking, officers said Wednesday.

Three of the men were arrested in a sting operation in Fremont, Newaygo County, on Tuesday night, said Newaygo County Sheriff Bob Mendham.

Officers said they posed as a 14- or 15-year old girl and invited men to a home in Fremont.

Mendham said at first he was skeptical that the plan would work. He initially thought sex trafficking was a big-city problem. He hoped “that it really doesn’t exist [in rural areas] -- that we would tell people we’re doing this in Fremont, Michigan, Newaygo County, and there wouldn’t be a soul in our area that would have anything to do with such a thing.”

But he said the sting was even more successful than he’d expected.

“I hoped that we would at least get a predator or two off the street, and we did. We got three.”

Mendham said he hopes the ease with which officers lured men into their sting prompts parents to keep a closer eye on their children’s online communications.

“I want parents to know that maybe it’s not their child who is the one struggling or in danger, but I bet they’ve got a friend that may be,” he said. “Pay attention to those kids. Reach out to them if they’re struggling. Just communicate with them.”