(WWJ) A child sex sting in Genesee County has led to 22 arrests, including some metro Detroit residents.
Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said the suspects are believed to have been targeting children in Genesee County for sexual purposes. While some live in Genesee County, others traveled from Wayne, Oakland, Saginaw, Shiawassee, Lapeer and Tuscola Counties.
The arrests, accounced at a news conference Monday, were the result of a five-week investigation by the newly formed Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team (GHOST) task force beginning April 11 and ending on June 15.
"On the wall behind me are the names and faces of sexual predators, pedophiles who lives among us," said Pickell, gesturing to booking photos displayed. "They are of all ages, creeds, genders and professions with one goal in mind: to have sex with kids."
Those in custody include a Comerica Bank Senior Vice President, a financial adviser, a subcontractor and factory worker at General Motors, two McDonald's employees, three construction workers and a political candidate.
"This fella over here, George Huffman, is really a unique guy," Pickell said. "In 2010, Huffman ran for the United States House of Representatives and garnered 33% of the vote. In 2018 he ran for the United States Senate on the U.S. Taxpayers ticket and he got over 27,000 votes."
Pickell detailed the case of the lone female arrested, Jennifer Beckman, a restaurant manager.
"She provided her 6-year-old daughter for Michael Foster to have sex with; trafficked her 6-year-old daughter," the sheriff said. "And upon further investigation we found that Michael Foster was having sex with his 2-year-old daughter. It doesn't get any worse than that."
Some of the suspects brought drugs with them when attempting to meet the children for sex, Pickell said, while others brought guns or knives.
"And we're doing some further investigation into that," he said. "When you see all these weapons that people bring to have sex with a child and they say, 'Well, I brought it for my protection.' Protect them from a young boy, a young girl?"
The suspects face a combined 66 felony charges, totaling 994 combined years of potential prison time. Child pornography and human trafficking charges are pending in some of the cases.
Pickell said this investigation is a sobering reminder that we must be more vigilant than ever protecting our kids, even when they're not in public.
"We used to worry about children when they were outside the house playing," he said. "Now we have to worry about them when they're inside the house and up in their bedroom and browsing on their computer. That is where these predators and child pedophiles are roaming, lurking and trying to entice children."
An additional suspect, Forrest Williams, remains at large. Anyone who knows his whereabouts is asked to call the Genesee County Sheriff's Office at 810-257-3422.