Butler County, Pennsylvania is located in western Pennsylvania, along I-81, described as “an artery for drug and sex trafficking.” R and visitors have reported prostitution and sex trafficking in and around the area’s truck stops for many years. In 2004, local truck stop representatives joined local law enforcement agencies to announce increased enforcement to combat ongoing problems with prostitution in Middlesex Township, Carlisle, Hampden Township, and communities in nearby Cumberland County. Truck stop managers in Middlesex Township have posted “no trespass, no soliciting, no loitering” signs at their businesses to allow authorities to make arrests of persons engaged in prostitutions. Police have conducted undercover stings at truck plazas and motels, increased patrols, and monitored citizen band radio traffic. Anyone arrested for prostitution or solicitation of a prostitute may be detained and photographed. The maximum penalty is up to a year in prison. Law enforcement also may immediately contact the family and employer of any person arrested. The district attorney has said illegal sex acts in cars will warrant a detainment and search of the vehicle for trace evidence.
Enhanced law enforcement regarding prostitution in Middlesex Township was initially in response to discovering the body of a 44-year-old woman spotted by a motorist along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Plainfield. Investigators throughout the country added the woman’s name to a list of more than 30 women who fell victim to what they believe was a ring of truckers that targeted and killed women involved in prostitution. One of the other victims was last seen alive at the Middlesex truck stop where she was engaging in prostitution. In February 2004, a 16-year-old girl was found along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the Middlesex truck stops, near mile marker 232 in Silver Spring Township. The girl acknowledged she was engaged in prostitution and her assailant was a man who she believed would pay for sex acts.
To address such issues, the Middlesex Township Police Department have conducted several street-level reverse stings using undercover female officers as decoys. As men attempt to solicit sex from the women, they are apprehended by police. Once arrested, johns may have their vehicles impounded (if they attempted to buy sex while operating a licensed commercial truck) and/or be subject to jail time. All arrestees must also pay a $100 fine, and may have their vehicles impounded and their employers and families notified. Demand reduction operations have also occurred in Butler Township. For example, in February 2016 a web-based reverse sting was conducted in Butler Township. Six sex buyers were arrested and their identities were released to news outlets. Undercover officers used website advertisements to attract people willing to engage in prostitution, and the arrests occurred at a hotel on Miller Lane. A group of local agencies called R-Storm, which formed to help each other with manpower issues, conducted the operation.
- Middlesex Township Police Department
- Butler Township Police Department
- Cranberry Police Department
Reverse stings, vehicle seizure, and other demand reduction tactics:
- https://cumberlink.com/news/da-don-t-do-it-here/ (2004)
- “Judge Deliberates Fate of Police Corporal Caught in Sting”, The Sentinel News, March 11 2005.
- “Police Stings Curtail Prostitution at Harrisburg-Area Truck Stops”, The Toledo Blade, March 20 2006.
- https://patch.com/pennsylvania/cranberry/police-arrest-two-in-cranberry-prostitution-bust (2011)
- http://butlerradio.com/five-women-arrested-cranberry-prostitution-sting/ (2016)
Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://cseinstitute.org/Report on Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania (2018)
Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution: