Sex Slaves: Motor City   View more episodes

Aired at 07:00 PM on Sunday, Mar 04, 2012 (3/4/2012)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:09>>> On the streets of detroit and throughout michigan, hard times are leading to hard choices for a growing number of young women caught up in the underground sex trade.
00:00:20>> Domestic trafficking in the state of michigan is a huge problem.
00:00:24>> Police!
00:00:25Coming in.
00:00:26>> We've seen cases involving 12- and 13-year-olds in small towns.
00:00:30We've seen cases involving young girls in the big cities here.
00:00:33They are modern-day slaves, on the streets all around us.
00:00:35>> Out of work and out of options, more and more are turning to the oldest profession in a desperate bid to make ends meet.
00:00:45>> And why are you guys out doing this?
00:00:48>> I'm homeless with four kids.
00:00:50>> But lurking in the shadows are the pimps and the traffickers, predators who will stop at nothing to extract their pound of flesh.
00:00:58>> They're going to beat you, kill you, or overdose you.
00:01:02One of the three, you're going to leave here in a very tragic way.
00:01:06>> Get your hands up!
00:01:07>> Hands up!
00:01:10Keep your hands up!
00:01:12>> Tonight, msnbc goes undercover with the fbi in michigan as they battle to rescue the young and the lost caught in the grip of sex slavery in the motor city.
00:01:20>> Please!
00:01:22I beg you.
00:01:24>> She's on something.
00:01:37>>> Detroit, michigan, once the very hub of american industrial might, the city's economic collapse is staggering.
00:01:46Today, with unemployment hovering near 20%, motown is a tough place to find a job.
00:01:53That is, unless you happen to be dealing in one of the few lines of merchandise that still pays around here -- the buying and selling of sex for cash.
00:02:05>> We actually have a number of partners that are in the task force.
00:02:10>> Special agent michael glennon heads up the fbi's human trafficking task force in michigan.
00:02:16>> Why the need for a task force when it comes to this issue of human trafficking, sex trafficking?
00:02:22>> In detroit a lot of people don't realize that we're kind of a hub of both recruitment as well as what they call a destination city and recruitment city.
00:02:33That, coupled with what is the end of the i-74 corridor, there's a lot of truck traffic.
00:02:38There's a lot of components that actually make it a very popular area for trafficking, unfortunately.
00:02:44May use deadly force only when necessary.
00:02:49>> Today the task force has invited us to ride along for a firsthand look at their efforts to combat the illicit sex trade in the motor city.
00:02:55>> Our objective overall obviously is recover as many juveniles as possible.
00:02:59Second unto that is build cases.
00:03:01>> Investigators begin the operation by browsing the online ads for adult services in metro detroit.
00:03:07They are hunting specifically for postings like this one for lil barbie, a very young-looking woman who appears likely to be underage.
00:03:19>> Who's calling lil barbie, you?
00:03:24>> Initial calls to set up a date with lil barbie go unanswered, but detectives will keep her very much in mind.
00:03:28Meanwhile, undercover officers begin to set up dates with other women who also appear to be quite young.
00:03:34>> Okay.
00:03:36You'll come to my hotel, right?
00:03:37>> Investigators have booked adjoining rooms in an upscale hotel.
00:03:41In a matter of minutes, they will transform the scene into a high-tech snare for call girls.
00:03:47>> The surveillance room where we'll be set up is 204, the undercover room will be 206.
00:03:52We're going to have it wired up for video and audio.
00:03:56>> Test record.
00:03:58>> Check, check, check, one, two.
00:04:00>> As one team wires the room for video and audio surveillance, undercover officers continue to work the phones.
00:04:07>> Hi, tiffany.
00:04:08>> Hey, missy.
00:04:09>> How you doing, ashley?
00:04:11>> Alexis?
00:04:12>> In the course of an hour, officers make nearly 100 calls.
00:04:15>> You are blonde, right?
00:04:17>> Hoping to identify and lure potential juveniles to the sting.
00:04:21>> I'm not going to stand you up.
00:04:24>> 90 Minutes into the operation, the team's efforts begin to bear fruit.
00:04:32See you in a little bit.
00:04:33>> She on her way?
00:04:34>> Cab's been called.
00:04:35She'll call me on the way in the cab.
00:04:38And she's not going to be happy when she pays him 25 bucks and then we bust her.
00:04:46>> A young woman named sunny is the first to take the bait.
00:04:48>> She came inside.
00:04:50She produced two condoms.
00:04:52She actually seemed a little naive.
00:04:56She's real eager to get undressed.
00:04:58Usually it's the other way around, asks the officer to get undressed, asks to touch the officer, because they don't think that the police will do that.
00:05:11I asked about oral sex, which she agreed to.
00:05:13And I then gave the bust signal.
00:05:15$200 Better be a good deal.
00:05:17Arresting and assisting officers entered the room.
00:05:20>> Police.
00:05:28>> Oh, my god!
00:05:31I can't get my purse?
00:05:34>> No.
00:05:34We'll take care of you.
00:05:35>> Investigators soon learn that sunny is only 22 and a long way from home.
00:05:40>> Can you run a file for me?
00:05:41It's going to be out of indiana.
00:05:43>> Right now she's going to be interviewed based off the information that she gives.
00:05:47We will either keep investigating if she gives leads in terms of any underage girls.
00:05:55If not, she'll go back to the police post and be held there in a cell.
00:05:59We'll allow her to post bond at the end night.
00:06:02That way, she's not able to warn any of the other girl that is we're out conducting stings.
00:06:10>> Do you have a job right now?
00:06:11>> No.
00:06:12>> Is that why you're doing this?
00:06:14Why are we doing it?
00:06:15>> I don't have a job.
00:06:16I don't have nobody.
00:06:19My daddy don't feed.
00:06:21My mama don't feed.
00:06:22So we do what we got to do to get money.
00:06:24>> She said she's only been doing it for approximately six months along with her sister.
00:06:28They're having financial difficulties at this time.
00:06:30That's the reason they decided to become involved in prostitution.
00:06:34>> While sunny is taken downtown for further investigation, undercover officers continue to prime.
00:06:40>> I'm calling to set up an appointment.
00:06:43I was actually kind of hoping for barbie, I think, the blond.
00:06:48>> The team continues their search for lil barbie with a call to one of her old contact numbers.
00:06:54>> Oh, that's not good.
00:06:57I asked about barbie.
00:06:59She said barbie is locked up.
00:07:00>> Investigators disregard that caller's information for a moment and try yet another number for barbie.
00:07:05>> Is barbie around?
00:07:06>> This time they make contact.
00:07:08>> Hey, it's chris.
00:07:10You doing out-calls?
00:07:11>> Barbie tells the investigators she's not comfortable doing out-calls.
00:07:17If he wants her, he will have to travel to her location.
00:07:20>> All right.
00:07:21>> Unfortunately, the team is not set up for travel today and the rendezvous with lil barbie will have to wait until tomorrow.
00:07:28>> Yeah, she sounds young.
00:07:32>> There are, however, a number of other potential juveniles that are willing to come out.
00:07:37And tonight, the task force must focus on them.
00:07:43>>> Coming up -- the task force brings down the curtain on what investigators call a two-girl show.
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00:11:03>>> Oh, my god, cameras?
00:11:05>> It's a friday night in detroit and investigators with the fbi's human trafficking task force are out in full strength.
00:11:14The scene is an upscale hotel in the suburbs where investigators have laid a trap for unwitting prostitutes and pimps.
00:11:22>> Oh, all right.
00:11:23Do you guys work together?
00:11:25>> During this call, a woman by the name of tiffany offers to bring a friend along for what investigators refer to as a two-girl show.
00:11:33>> Do you want us both to come?
00:11:39>> How much is -- will it be for the two of you then?
00:11:43>> Double.
00:11:45>> Okay.
00:11:47>> Tiffany is bringing a friend.
00:11:48>> Just off the phone another target.
00:11:51Supposed to be 20 minutes out.
00:11:53Supposed to be a two-girl show.
00:11:54>> Outside the hotel investigators keep an eye on the front door, and it's not long before tiffany and her friend come calling.
00:12:02>> Two females just went in.
00:12:04What we had was the two-girl show, the outside surveillance was able to see what vehicle they got out of, which was a white van.
00:12:14>> All right.
00:12:15That white van is parked in the back right behind us.
00:12:19>> That's the pimp.
00:12:21>> While the outside team watches the white transport van, the action inside room 206 is heating up.
00:12:28>> Do you guys want me to put the money down or something?
00:12:31>> Yeah.
00:12:32>> Is that how it works?
00:12:33>> Investigators in the room next door watch and wait for the go signal while the undercover gets the women to agree verbally to the deal.
00:12:43>> What do you want?
00:12:44>> Take turns for a minute?
00:12:45That's a good deal for $200.
00:12:46>> It's a good deal, and the arresting officers move in.
00:12:50>> Police.
00:12:52>> Police department.
00:12:56>> Oh, my god.
00:12:58>> She's got my cash somewhere, 320.
00:13:03>> With the women now in custody, investigators quickly target the white van that delivered them.
00:13:10>> Hands up!
00:13:11>> Get your hands up!
00:13:12Walk toward the car.
00:13:14Hands on the car now.
00:13:15>> Turned out to be four individuals, one being the boyfriend of one of the girls who was in the room on the original date.
00:13:23>> Inside the van, detectives find dirty clothes, a mattress and a television, all signs that the vehicle is doubling as a living space.
00:13:31And just one more indication of hard times in detroit.
00:13:35>> And why are you guys out doing this for the first time?
00:13:38>> I'm homeless with four kids.
00:13:40>> I'm trying to get my kids back so I need money because the environment is bad.
00:13:44>> Ever done this before?
00:13:46>> No.
00:13:47>> Tiffany and natasha say this is their first arrest for prostitution, but both admit to prior experience dancing in local strip clubs.
00:13:55>> This is your first time getting busted?
00:13:58>> No.
00:13:59This is my first time doing this, period.
00:14:02>> This kind of work?
00:14:03>> Yeah.
00:14:04>> Yeah.
00:14:06>> This is my first call to jail or wherever I'm going.
00:14:10>> Come on.
00:14:11Everyone knows what happens in the strip clubs.
00:14:13>> No.
00:14:13>> No!
00:14:15>> Never?
00:14:16>> I've never done any of this [ bleep ].
00:14:18>> That's what they tell me.
00:14:20I tell guys I have babies.
00:14:21I have to kiss my kids good night.
00:14:24>> Right.
00:14:25>> God's way of telling me, remember you've still got to kiss them babies.
00:14:33Oh, man.
00:14:35My husband is going to shoot me.
00:14:36>> Tiffany and natasha's arrest is barely five minutes old when detectives get word that the next date is en route and only moments away.
00:14:42>> Very friendly.
00:14:43She sounds young.
00:14:45I'd say she's definitely 20 or below.
00:14:48>> We're going to shut this door, okay?
00:14:52>> The team has no choice but to stash the women in the bathroom of the surveillance room while the undercover goes to work in the room next door.
00:15:00>> You'll be all right?
00:15:02>> Yeah.
00:15:03>> Just shhh.
00:15:12>> As soon as this young woman agrees to $180 for a half hour of sex, investigators move in and make yet another arrest.
00:15:21The young woman who goes by the name natalia is only 19.
00:15:28Erratic and unusually talkative, she appears at first to be under the influence of drugs.
00:15:35>> I don't have my wallet on me.
00:15:36>> You just get done smoking something?
00:15:38>> Huh?
00:15:40>> You just get done smoking something?
00:15:42>> I don't smoke.
00:15:47>> You feel okay?
00:15:48>> My stomach just hurts.
00:15:50I'm pregnant.
00:15:51>> Really?
00:15:52>> Yeah.
00:15:54>> From chris we got a lead on the other vehicle.
00:15:56>> Meanwhile, outside the hotel, investigators run down the vehicle that delivered natalia.
00:16:00Inside they find two females.
00:16:01Both are arrested and taken downtown for questioning.
00:16:04>> We're going to go to the other side here.
00:16:07>> The team now has ten individuals in custody.
00:16:09>> Going back for the search?
00:16:11>> Yes.
00:16:12>> All are transported downtown where investigators hope to gather new information about the ever-changing underground sex networks in detroit.
00:16:21>> Right now we're just getting them situated in their cells.
00:16:23We're going to start interviewing them one by one.
00:16:26>> A closer look at tiffany and natasha's case reveals what appears to be a start-up pimping operation run by a convicted drug dealer out on parole.
00:16:38>> Sorry to wake you up.
00:16:40I need some quick information.
00:16:41You can stay down if you want.
00:16:44>> Investigators will continue to probe this fledgling outfit for any possible links to juveniles or bigger players in the local sex trade.
00:16:50>> Tell me how you got involved in that.
00:16:53>> As for natalia, the pregnant 19-year-old yields perhaps the most promising tip of the night.
00:16:58>> Kristen is, like, I need money.
00:17:00I want to do that, too.
00:17:02>> A lead on a possible juvenile going by the name of kristen.
00:17:05>> She said she wanted to do it because it looked like easy money.
00:17:09>> According to natalia the juvenile is being exploited by a local escort service.
00:17:14>> How old do you think she was?
00:17:15>> At the time 16 or 17.
00:17:20>> What makes you think that again?
00:17:22>> Because she was in school and I knew she was under 18.
00:17:26>> She provides investigators with the description of the juvenile, her possible location and the name of the individual who might be exploiting her.
00:17:33All valuable pieces of the puzzle for these detectives, who will go on, working to rescue the young and the lost, caught in the grip of sex slavery in the motor city.
00:17:48>> Yes, we did get intel throughout the operation from a couple of the different arrests about juveniles that are currently out there working.
00:17:54We also identified roughly two to three pimps that are working girls in the detroit metro area that we will continue to build a case on and go after next time