3 arrested in child sex trafficking sting

August 10, 2023

3 arrested in child sex trafficking sting

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

LUDINGTON — Three men were arrested Wednesday evening and face charges related to attempting to solicit children using a computer. In a press conference this morning at the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, Ludington Police Chief Chris Jones, Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Lauren Kreinbrink and Michigan State Police Sgt. Trevor Beck, announced the arrests that took place at Suttons Landing following a two week investigation. 

Cole said the sting was initiated after two Mason County sheriff deputies saw the movie “Sound of Freedom,” which is a film about a former U.S. government agent who embarks on a mission to rescue children from sex traffickers. 

The operation was a collaboration with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office human trafficking team GHOST (Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team) and also included cooperation with the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office and SSCENT (State, Sheriff’s, Chief’s Enforcement of Narcotics Team). 

“This operation started a noon (on Wednesday) with a briefing, and by 1:30 p.m., the first person was taken into custody,” Sheriff Cole said. “In total, three persons were arrested yesterday afternoon and last night and our office is seeking charges of soliciting a minor for immoral purposes and using a computer in the commission of a crime. Additional charges are possible, pending a review of the reports by Prosector Kreinbrink.” 

Arrested were a 58-year-old Hart man, a 53-year-old Ormond Beach, Fla. man, who was camping in Oceana County, and a 20-year-old Wyoming, Mich. man. 

“This operation involved the suspects engaging in on-line chatting with a person they believed to be a 15-year-old. Make no mistake, those arrested knew full well the age of the person being solicited. After a price for services was established, a meeting was set up at Sutton’s Landing on Iris Road in Pere Marquette Township. 

“The arrested teams involved two man teams of Ludington Police Department officers and two man teams of Mason County sheriff’s deputies. The arrests were made with no threat to the public and those arrested did comply with arrested officers.” 

Chief Jones said parents need to be vigilant about their children’s online activities. 

“I would encourage parents to have age appropriate conversations with their children about the dangers that exist, monitor electronic device usage and engagement by children and be involved and present in their children’s lives. In the upcoming school year, law enforcement through school resource officers, will be rolling out educational materials and guidance to assist parents in this effort,” Jones said. 

Cole added that parents should not allow their children to take electronic communication devices, such as cell phones, into their bedrooms.

“There’s no reason for a child to have a device like that unsupervised,” Cole said. 

Both Cole and Jones stated they were proud of the cooperation between the various law enforcement agencies that participated in the operation. 

Names of the suspects will be released upon arraignment, which is expected to take place today.