Kalamazoo man accused of forcing women into sex trade

Joseph Lee
Joseph Lee's mug shot from the Kalamazoo County Jail. (May 10, 2016)

OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kalamazoo man faces two felony charges after allegedly coercing women into prostitution, authorities say.

Investigators were tipped off to the situation by citizens who reported that women had been forced into prostitution in exchange for drugs or to pay off drug debts, according to a Wednesday release from the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team.

KVET says it found four women who admitted they had been forced into prostitution in connection to using drugs. In one case, KVET says, a man took a woman to a meeting location and then physically forced her into prostitution.

KVET officers and officers from the Portage Department of Public Safety arrested the man, Joseph Quincy Lee, Tuesday as he waited for one of his alleged victims in a parking lot in the 5000 block of 9th Street near N Avenue in Oshtemo Township, southwest of Kalamazoo.

Officers say they found more evidence of long-term human trafficking and more victims at the time of the arrest.

Lee, 32, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of engaging the services of a prostitute, a misdemeanor; human trafficking, a 10-year felony; and transporting a person for prostitution, a 20-year felony.

Lee has a long criminal history dating back to 2000 that includes marijuana and controlled substance convictions, felony firearms convictions and domestic violence convictions.

The four apparent victims were directed to resources to help victims of human trafficking and drug addiction. They are not being held by police.

Anyone with information about illegal drugs or firearms activity is asked to call KVET at 269.337.8880 or contact Silent Observer at 269.343.2100.

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