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Sheriff's office, task force to combat human trafficking - The Pioneer

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Sheriff's office, task force to combat human trafficking Social media a main source of related cases, sheriff says

Mecosta County Sheriff Brian Miller Mecosta County Sheriff Brian Miller Image 1 of / 2 Caption Close Sheriff's office, task force to combat human trafficking 1 / 2 Back to Gallery

MECOSTA COUNTY — The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office is encouraging people to remember the dangers of human trafficking when using social media.

"I think it is more prevalent than it has ever been," Mecosta County Sheriff Brian Miller said. "In the past, you talked about the physical grooming of or abduction of individuals. Nowadays, the accessibility of the internet makes it easier for individuals to reach out to young people, or females, and groom them that way."

The state of Michigan is ranked second highest nationwide for issues of human trafficking, Miller said, and it can happen anywhere in the state as well as in the county.

While not having dealt with specific incidents of human trafficking in his time as sheriff, Miller noted the increase in child pornography cases that have been reported to the sheriff's office over the past few weeks.

Miller said these cases, which involve young adults and teens, typically occur over social media.

Dee Van Horn, head of the Meceola Human Trafficking Task Force, said this is typical with cases of this nature, noting human trafficking is a hidden crime that typically occurs between a victim and someone they know.

"People will say it can't happen here," she said.

When looking at Michigan specifically, Van Horn said a reason it can occur in the state is due to the large amount of transportation and closeness to an international border.

For these reasons, both the task force and the sheriff's office have been doing their part to bring awareness to the issue.

"The more we can get it out in the open and have people understand it's a problem and monitor who their kids are speaking to, I think that's a start," Miller said.

Van Horn said Mecosta County residents can take steps to be aware by being diligent in public and keeping their eye out for anything out of the ordinary.

"The priority is to get someone to safety," she said.

Miller said those seeking help or who have a gut feeling about something out of the ordinary are always encouraged to contact their local law enforcement agencies as well.

"We can always look into it closer. Sometimes if you don't know or are uncomfortable with something, you don't pursue the matter," he said.

Those seeking more information may also contact the Meceola Human Trafficking Task Force at

Published On: Tue, 02 Mar 2021 11:00:00 GMT

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