GHOST operation nets two suspects in Grand Blanc

Third arrest made in northern Michigan

GRAND BLANC TWP. — A recent sting conducted by the Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team (GHOST) has resulted in two more sex trafficking-related arrests in Genesee County.

In early December, GHOST and other local police agencies apprehended 53-year-old Robert Irby of Flint Township and 30-year-old Antoine El-Hajj from Brighton during an operation in Grand Blanc Township. The arrests, which were made separately, took place at a motel on Holly Road just off I-75.

As reported by Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, Irby came to the location to have sex with a 15-year-old girl—who was portrayed online by a GHOST “chatter” operative. Swanson said that Irby allegedly attempted to pay for sexual acts under the premise of “donating” money to further the 15-year-old decoy’s education.

El-Hajj, who became a United States citizen in September, is also accused of attempting to have sex with a 15-year-old GHOST decoy. Swanson said that El-Hajj intended to trade a bottle of wine for sex.

Irby and El-Hajj are both facing 20-year and 40-year felonies.

“They are now added to our list…of 83 predators that GHOST has arrested (this year),” Swanson said. “Not just from operations like this, but different operations where maybe we actually find a victim, and we arrest the pimp or the predator that is trying to do that.”

In addition to the sting operation in Grand Blanc Township, GHOST also made an arrest this month outside the county. Swanson said his office and the GHOST hotline received a tip that a 13-year-old was being sexually abused in Benzie County near Traverse City.

After securing a search warrant, the GHOST team traveled three hours up to Benzie County and arrested 51-year-old Shane Conley. GHOST conducted the operation with assistance from the Benzie County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police and brought Conley—a former Genesee County resident who now lives in Benzie County—back with them to face charges.

Swanson said that the suspect used his “position of influence” to abuse the victim over a two-year period. He also gave credit to the 13-year-old for having the courage to speak up and report the abuse to GHOST.

Conley is currently lodged in the Genesee County Jail and is facing six criminal sexual conduct charges—all of which are first degree offenses. He is being held on a $210,000 bond.