FLINT — The Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team (GHOST) has released details on another sting operation that it conducted this summer to take human traffickers off the streets.
At a press conference held on Aug. 26, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Macala Vliet, a Flint man who was trafficking a 26-year-old woman for sex. Vliet, 26, was apprehended by GHOST and local police agencies during a reverse sting operation, in which GHOST operatives posed as buyers online and met Vliet at an undisclosed location in Genesee County.
Lt. David Kennamar, an undercover GHOST agent who oversaw the operation, said that he and another analyst discovered the victim while monitoring a human trafficking website. He described the woman as a highly vulnerable individual with special needs.
“When we came across her picture, it was pretty obvious,” he said. “She appeared to be disheveled and kind of unkept, and her glasses probably had an inch of tape holding them together.”
Kennamar said that the victim had met the suspect online and began dating him. But the situation quickly turned violent, and Vliet began allegedly trafficking the victim out for sex.
When the woman attempted to leave the suspect, Kennamar said that she was subjected to abuse and violence.
“When we conducted a forensic interview, she started reliving the horrors that she was in and describing how it became more and more violent, up to the point where he was strangling her,” he said. “When she tried to leave him, he threw her against a mirror, breaking her glasses.”
Once Vliet was in custody, Kennamar said that the task force transitioned to caring for the victim, making sure that she had a place to stay and receiving counseling and medical needs.
The GHOST task force also worked with the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office and Flint Optical to replace the woman’s broken glasses. Kennamar said that the pair of new glasses was a great aid to the woman as she testified against Vliet in court.
“When you take someone’s vision away from them, their humanity goes away from them,” he said. “A simple pair of glasses was the first step that she took in order to heal her life and give her that humanity back.”
Vliet has entered a plea deal and is facing charges for domestic violence and strangulation, with other charges pending. If convicted, he could spend up to 10 years in prison.