Duly Noted

First criminal conviction under new human trafficking law secured

Attorney General Bill Schuette has 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 in Wayne County Circuit Court Sedrick Leman-Isaac Mitchell, 33, was convicted of eight criminal charges in connection with his role in the sexual exploitation of two young girls 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.  The investigation revealed that Mitchell was the pimp to two minor victims, aged 14 and 15. 

Mitchell was convicted by a jury of his peers on eight counts, though he was acquitted on six other counts.

Both victims were recruited by Mitchell to engage in prostitution in 2010, forced to spend each night prostituting and turning over their earnings to Mitchell. He would slap and punch the girls if they did not earn enough money, and also frequently had sex with the two underage victims. He is scheduled for sentencing on April 11.

The case was the first charged by the new Human Trafficking Unit, which was created by reallocating resources to put increased focus on combating human trafficking, a priority Schuette identified upon taking office.  The unit works closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies 

Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, and second-largest, after drug trafficking.  Victims are in bondage through force, fraud or coercion, for the purpose of sex or labor exploitation. According to U.S. Department of Justice  statistics, 2515 incidents of human trafficking were recorded nationwide from Jan. 2008 to June 2010. 

The Michigan law banning Human Trafficking (MCL 760.462a, et seq.) went into effect on August 24, 2006, with changes taking effect April 1, 2011. Updates included: including human trafficking under state racketeering laws, authorizing additional restitution for victims, and stronger penalties.