KALAMAZOO, MI A Western Michigan University police officer is among the people arrested in connection with the sheriff's arrests.
The officer who is no longer employed by the university's police division was one of three people arrested, according to sheriff's officials in Kalamazoo County on Friday, April 15.
At a press conference, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office conducted a human trafficking investigation. It resulted in arrests of people accused of seeking sex from minors.
Abraham Martin Hohnke, a 49-year-old former police officer, of Portage, Aaron James Bower-Guimond, 27, of Mattawan, and Nathan Lee Ruzick, 26, of Mattawan, were arraigned Friday on charges related to the sting operation.
The sheriff's office has stated that the charges against the investigation are related to:
Fuller said the incidents and arrests sounded different over the previous week and lasted eight hours. They were all arraigned on charges as of Friday afternoon.
"This is a tragic situation in our nation, where serious crimes are committed," Fuller said. "Every day, tens of thousands of people are looking for juveniles to have sex with.
"If you are, we will always strive for you," added Fuller.
Fuller said the three individuals had an online conversation with someone online posing as a minor child. It all shifted to sex chat, and arrangements were made to meet at a hotel, he added.
Fuller said the students met sheriff's officers instead of a child when they arrived.
Before an operation was started here, a "strike team" carried the operation, he said, and it may be called a sting. The Genesee County Sheriff's Office is well-known for human trafficking stings. Fuller said: "There are many reasons to expect this situation.
Fuller said Hohnke was not working at the time of the arrest.
President Edward Montgomery of WMU issued a statement Friday afternoon. "There is no student or any other member of the University community involved," Montgomery said.
According to the university, the former officer served in the force for ten years.
Montgomery claims that as WMU police informed him of his arrest, he was suspended without pay and, according to the provisions of the WMU Police Officers Collective Bargaining Agreement, was given notice of intention to terminate pending review.
His police powers and permission to travel to campus were immediately revoked. Montgomery said the employee had opted to quit this afternoon.
While this incident did not take place on campus or during the course of the employee's duties, I share these findings for the sake of transparency and in line with how seriously we take this issue. We are fully cooperating with authorities to assist their investigation as soon as possible, Montgomery said.
"The behavior alleged in the charges is misguided and totally counter to the University's values. The WMU police department is a fully accredited sworn force that is dedicated to community policing and the safety of our communities. We will simply not tolerate behavior that undermines the trust and confidence in our officers who strive for our safety daily," Montgomery said.
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