A Michigan man filed down his teeth into fangs to intimidate human trafficking victims while commanding several underlings to do his bidding, including kidnapping women, prosecutors say.
Michael Barajas, 36, who is seen sporting multiple face tattoos in his mugshot from the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, is accused of building a human trafficking gang called the ‘Massad Squad.’
They’re said to have prowled around in a Hummer looking for victims.
‘He would tell the victim, “I’m going to rip your throat out if you don’t do what I tell you to do, and you don’t comply,”‘ said Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson. ‘It’s dominance. It’s kidnapping. It’s grooming.’
Two of his ‘generals’ were recently arrested and law enforcement officials have since brought 20 new charges against the ring leader who allegedly held a 20-year-old woman down while she was raped by men inside a home for two weeks.
Michael Barajas, 36, is accused of building a human trafficking gang called the ‘Massad Squad’
The man filed his teeth down to intimidate his victims, law enforcement said
During a recent press conference, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson shared shocking details, of how the kidnapped 20-year-old woman was abused by the fanged-criminal and his band of accomplices.
‘I knew this serial monster was bad, but I did not realize he’s as bad as what I’m going to tell you today,’ Swanson said Tuesday.
Swanson said Barajas around Thanksgiving sent out accomplice Alex Matthew Schmidt, 23, and another man in a yellow Hummer to search for women who were ‘vulnerable.’
While searching, the pair found a 20-year-old woman walking along the road near Flint.
Swanson said the pair offered the woman a warm place to stay, a shower, and food.
‘It’s the bare needs of an individual,’ Swanson said. ‘It’s the basic hygiene that she so needed. That was the grooming hook that they used.’
Ropes were found where the woman was being held inside the Flint home
This is the home where the group was holding the victim
The men brought the woman back to a home on Marmion Avenue in Flint, where Barajas was waiting.
Swanson said Barajas had not been in the house but completely orchestrated the kidnapping.
Barajas had trained the ‘generals’ to go find vulnerable women and bring them back to the ‘Massad Squad’ human trafficking headquarters, law enforcement said.
‘The term “Massad Squad” was, I’m sure, in his mind, something that he was trying to create to form a sex industry trade,’ Swanson said.
The woman tried multiple times to escape from the residence
Officials found the home in complete disarray
These are some of the things officials found inside the home
The group bolted the windows of the home shut
After the woman was brought back to the Flint home, the victim was raped by men while Barajas and his ‘generals’ held her down.
The group of men would use ropes or other items, Swanson said.
The sheriff continued, saying the men would often force her to put a pacifier in her mouth and call them ‘daddy’ or put a gun to her head.
‘Barajas held (a gun) to the head of our victim and said, ‘If you don’t do this, I’m going to kill you,’ Swanson said during the recent press conference.
It was during these assaults that Barajas would use his filed teeth to intimidate the woman, by threatening to rip her throat out.
These are two of Barajas’ accomplices, according to law enforcement officials
The woman was held inside the house for two weeks
She finally escaped the Flint house after going to the hospital for a medical emergency
Throughout the two weeks she was in the home, the woman attempted to escape multiple times with no success.
The group of men had barricaded and locked the doors and screwed the windows shut.
During her first attempt, the woman was able to get out the front door and run down the street before they tackled her and dragged her back.
‘She ran out the door, and as she was running down the street, they fired a round at her, they tackled her. She actually stabbed Barajas at one point. They dragged her back,’ Swanson said.
In another attempt, the woman made it to a nearby McDonald’s before Barajas and the other men found her.
Inside, they allegedly threatened to kill her if she made any statements.
‘She went back a second time against her will,’ Swanson said.
The victim was finally rescued on December 8 when she had a medical emergency and was rescued at the hospital.
The home where the group held the woman was raided and Barajas was arrested, the man was charged with kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct, and assault with a dangerous weapon. His first bond was set at $250,000.
After the initial story broke, another victim came forward in January, accusing Barajas of targeting her when she was just four-years-old.
‘At age 4, she was put into a situation because of her connection as the child of an adult to Barajas’ family of adults,’ Swanson said. ‘Almost the same type of threats, the same type of intimidation, and the same type of sexual assault.’
The alleged assaults happened up to five times a week from 2003 to 2007.
‘It was only because that relationship of the adults broke up that she was rescued and she was taken out of the situation, never to tell her story until January 3, 2023,’ Swanson said.
Now, officials are looking for additional victims to come forward, calling him a ‘serial monster’ and saying ‘he did not stop targeting’ randomly for 15 years.
‘Her torture and her nightmare ended in 2007. So from 2007 to 2022, when we got in, how many other victims are along that timeline?’
Swanson said he ‘knows’ there are more victims out there and is encouraging them to reach out to the proper authorities.
There was a board over a window of the home
This is the bolt on the door where the woman was being held
The 20 new felony charges filed against Barajas include 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, as well as intimidation, bribery, and weapons offenses.
If he is found guilty, Barajas faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
He’s currently being held without bond.
‘The brutality, the look, the intimidation – I’ve seen nothing like it,’ Swanson said.
Alex Matthew Schmidt, 23, and Jojuan Najee Howze, 33, have both been arrested as members of the human trafficking operation.
Schmidt has been charged with kidnapping and first-degree sexual assault.
Howze has been referred to by authorities as a ‘participant in the violent sex ring,’ and has been charged with kidnapping and four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Two more men are still being sought by police, including Cody Lohrer who had information that is important to the case.
Two more men are still being sought by police, including Cody Lohrer who had information that is important to the case
‘We need to find him,’ Swanson said. ‘He’s got information that is critical to this case. He’s got information that I know, as an active participant — he is, at this point, since there’s no formal charges, he is an individual of interest. But we’re going to find him, and we’re going to find Lil Ryan, as well.’
Lil Ryan is the street name of the other man wanted by police in this case.
‘I will tell you this: If you took advantage of any of these females, or any other female or male in a sex slave ring, we’re going to find you,’ Swanson said.
‘You can try to hide it from your families, your friends, you can try to go and put different names on your phones under different profiles and try to do ghost apps — we’ll find you,’ the sheriff said.