Monroe County Sheriff's Office launches task force to combat human trafficking

Posted at 5:19 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 12:02:29-04

(WXYZ) — Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry that exploits nearly 25 million people around the world, and a trafficker’s income can reach up to $250,000 per year.

To make matters worse, Sheriff Christopher Swanson of Genesee County says the heinous activity is in everyone’s back yard.

That's why to tackle such crimes within our community, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office today unveiled a new anti-human trafficking task force called VIPER (Violent Internet Predator & Exploitation Response) that aims to crack down on predators and help victims of sex crimes.

What’s more, even before the announcement, the response team already tackled two cases, which led to the arrest of five people.

Sheriff Goodnough of Monroe County revealed VIPER conducted its first operation back on July 21st, apprehending three predators: 37-year-old Christopher Jablonski and 24-year-old Antonio Oliver-King from Toledo along with 66-year-old Francis Pizzo from Trenton.

Meanwhile, two other operations were carried out in August that resulted in the arrest of 31-year-old Jesus Rees, and 40-year-old Luke Smallwood from Monroe who tried to get away by jumping into the River Raisin.

National statistics show that for every sex trafficker taken off the street, 24 victims are saved.

But Heidi Wilt, Executive Director of the Alabaster Gift, an anti-human trafficking center, says one of the best ways to prevent such crimes is for parents to monitor their kid's online activity and to look out for changes in their child’s behavior.