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Human trafficking misery apparently active in Upper Peninsula

Although it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security while living in the beautiful, rural communities of the Upper Peninsula, a recent announcement from the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office made it clear that residents need to remain vigilant, especially those who are caregivers to children or other vulnerable individuals.

Officials with the prosecutor’s office, the Upper Peninsula Human Trafficking Task Force and law enforcement agencies announced details Wednesday of a joint sting operation “to identify and arrest suspected consumers of child sex crimes,” that led to multiple U.P. men being charged with felonies related to alleged child sex crimes.

The men arrested as a result of the operation Robert Jay Miller, 42, of Negaunee; Ameire Rackem Stevens, 48, of Skandia; Alan Brian Schwalbach, 64, of Vulcan; Keith David Johnson, 50, of Au Train; and Chad Michael Anderson, 32, of Gwinn. Officials said they have each been charged with the following felonies: child sexually abusive activity, use of a computer to commit child sexual abusive activity, accosting a child for immoral purposes and use of a computer to commit accosting a child for immoral purposes.

Members of Marquette County law enforcement agencies carried out the joint sting operation in collaboration with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office in the Lower Peninsula. Upper Peninsula agencies involved included the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office, the Marquette Police Department, the Michigan State Police and the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team and the Iron River Police Department. The Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team, GHOST, also aided in the operation.

We commend the agencies involved for working to protect children through their teamwork on this investigation. Most importantly, we were glad to hear that no children were harmed before the team arrested the suspects.

“The thing I think about most on this is the fact that we didn’t have any named child victims here,” Wiese said during a Wednesday press conference.

“…. Here, because of the success of the sting operation, we were able to identify people that wanted to prey on children, and they were arrested without any children being harmed in this particular operation. I think it’s proactive and it helps protect other children and sends a message to anyone who might want to participate in this activity that law enforcement will be watching.”

We believe operations like this are critical in protecting children from those who might prey on them and ideally, prevent future potential offenders from engaging in predatory behavior.

Due to this, we urge officials at local, state and regional levels to offer continued support for this type of operation, as protecting children is one of the most critical tasks of any society.

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