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March 23, 2012
LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced his new Human Trafficking Unit has secured Michigan's first criminal conviction charged under the recently passed state law banning human trafficking. After a four-day jury trial conducted in Wayne County Circuit Court Sedrick Leman-Isaac Mitchell, 33, of Detroit, was convicted of eight criminal charges in connection with his role in the sexual exploitation of two young girls who he forced to engage in prostitution in Detroit. Mitchell, whose nickname was "Gruesome", faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
"Modern day slavery happens in Michigan every day and it must be stopped," said Schuette. "I am committed to a new fight against this enslavement of our children. This is a warning for the criminals running these operations: Your time is up."
The charges resulted from an investigation into a prostitution ring involving minors conducted by Michigan State Police and the FBI through the Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force (SEMCAC). The investigation revealed that Mitchell, known as "Roc" and "Gruesome" was the pimp to two minor victims, one 14-years old, and the other 15-years old.
"This conviction is the result of the hard work by members of the SEMCAC Task Force and Michigan Attorney General's Office," said Andrew Arena, Special Agent In Charge, FBI Detroit Division. "We will remain vigilant in stopping those who seek to enslave our children and profit from human trafficking."
Mitchell was convicted by a jury of his peers on the following eight charges:
Mitchell was acquitted on six other counts.
In July of 2010, the 14-year old victim was recruited by Mitchell to engage in prostitution. She reports she lived in a house on the east side of Detroit for about two months with several other girls who also prostituted for Mitchell. The girls were forced to spend each night on the streets prostituting and turning over their earnings to Mitchell. Mitchell would slap and punch the girls if they did not earn enough money. Mitchell also had sex with this girl on several occasions.
In late December 2010 through January 2011, the 15-year old victim, likewise, was recruited by Mitchell to engage in prostitution under the same circumstances. Mitchell had sex with her on several occasions as well, including one incident where she resisted Mitchell's sexual advances and he choked her and continued with the sexual assault.
Mitchell's case was the first charged by Schuette's new Human Trafficking Unit. Mitchell is scheduled for sentencing on April 11, 2012.
Human trafficking is modern day slavery and it is the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, after drug trafficking. Victims of human trafficking are in bondage through force, fraud or coercion, solely for the purpose of sex or labor exploitation. Children are especially vulnerable. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2,515 incidents of human trafficking were recorded nationwide between January 2008 and June 2010. Of those incidents, 1,016 involved the sexual exploitation of a child, 1,218 involved the sexual exploitation of adults, and 350 involved labor trafficking.
The Michigan law banning Human Trafficking (MCL 760.462a, et seq.) went into effect on August 24, 2006. The law was strengthened in 2010, with those changes taking effect on April 1, 2011. Updates to the law included: adding human trafficking to the list of predicate offenses that fall under the state racketeering law, authorizing additional court-ordered restitution for trafficking victims, and stronger penalties.
Schuette's Human Trafficking Unit was created by reallocating resources in the Attorney General's Criminal Division to put an increased focus on combating human trafficking in Michigan, a priority Schuette identified upon taking office. The unit to works closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to uncover and prosecute cases of modern-day slavery involving both children and adults.
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