Middlesex Township, PA

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Middlesex Township is a township in southeastern Pennsylvania of approximately 6,000 residents in Cumberland County, PA. Situated along I-81, the area is described as “an artery  for drug and sex trafficking, community residents have reported spikes in prostitution and sex trafficking in and around the area’s truck stops.” 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 nearby communities in Cumberland County. Additionally, the district attorney reported that all truck stop management in the Middlesex Township area agreed to post “no trespass, no soliciting, no loitering” signs at their businesses to allow authorities to make on the spot arrests of prostituted individuals. Reports of violence against individuals engaging in commercial sex, targeted homicide of prostituted persons, and sexual assault/rape of prostituted persons have been documented to occur as a result of prostitution-related activity at these trucks stops. The need for enhanced law enforcement regarding prostitution in Middlesex Township came about recently after the body of a 44-year-old woman was spotted by a motorist along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Plainfield, PA. Investigators throughout the country added the woman’s name to a list of more than 30 women who were victims to what they believe is a ring of truckers who have targeted and killed women involved in prostitution. One of the other victims was last seen alive at the Middlesex truck stop area where she was engaging in prostitution.

Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in February 2004, a 16-year-old girl was found alive along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the Middlesex truck stops, near mile marker 232 in Silver Spring Township. The victim acknowledged she was engaged in prostitution and her assailant was a man who she believed would pay for sex acts. Police believe that she was also a victim of the large-scale sex trafficking ring operating in the area during that time.

To address these 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, sex buyers 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, at the discretion of the courts could be held for several nights in jail. Commercial trucks have been impounded by Middlesex Township police, and officers notify employers that it will cost $400 or more to get their vehicles back. In a 2006 news report, it was said that about half of the truckers lose their job immediately.  Men’s wives and girlfriends have also been notified by police upon their arrest for soliciting prostitution.

Reverse sting operations are often conducted in collaboration with other local law enforcement agencies. For example, in 2004, the Middlesex Township Police Department, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Task Force, and the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office collaborated to conduct a street-level reverse sting operation at a Middlesex truck stop that resulted in the arrest of three male sex buyers. According to reports, the operation was conducted in response to the recent string of murders of prostituted women in the area. The identities and ages of arrested sex buyers were included in reports by local media outlets.

Loss of employment and identity disclosure are also consequences of buying sex in the township. For example, in 2004, a Middlesex patrol officer was arrested on allegations that rather than charging women arrested for prostitution at local truck stops, “he would engage in oral and/or vaginal sex with them.” According to court documents, one encounter “took place after the police responded to a noise complaint at a local motel. When they entered her room, [a prostituted woman] was naked with a man she had just met. After being taken into custody by the other officers, she was interviewed by the [the officer in question] at the police station. He let her know that he found her to be very attractive. He also suggested the if she had “some kind of sexual contact” with him, he would forego the filing of drug charges against her.” The victim was concerned about a prior drug charge and was worried about receiving an additional felony charge. The officer in question drove the woman to her house where she told the court he solicited sex from her in exchange for a lesser charge.

To apprehend the officer in question, the Middlesex Township Police Department, the Cumberland County Sherriff’s Office, and a Dauphin County Probation Officer collaborated to conduct a reverse sting operation in which the probation officer posed as a prostituted woman and an additional undercover operative posed as a male sex buyer at a Middlesex Township motel. The room had been wired for both audio and video. The officer in question was directed by county dispatch to respond to the motel to “investigate a blonde running around the hallway in her panties and her bra.” Upon arriving to the hotel room, the officer in question asked the “male sex buyer” to step out into the hallway and explain how he met the “prostituted woman.” After the decoy male sex buyer explained his encounter with the “prostituted woman,” the officer told him to leave. When the undercover probation officer offered the officer in question oral sex, he replied “Actually I think I want a little more. A lot more.” When he began to undress, the undercover probation officer arrested the Middlesex Township patrol officer. Upon further investigation, more victims came forward to police. The sex buyer was formally charged with three counts of rape, two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, three counts of sexual assault, three counts of prostitution, four counts of bribery in official and political matters, two counts of official oppression, two counts of obstructing administration of law or other governmental function, two counts of tampering with public records, and one count of criminal attempt to [sic] prostitution. He was acquitted of all charges except for two counts of bribery and was sentenced to serve not less than 9 nor more than 23 months in the county prison on one count and to serve a consecutive period of intermediate punishment on the other. The corporal, a member of the Middlesex force for 12 years, was suspended without pay but was eventually fired from the force. His identity and image were included in news reports by local media outlets.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure

Auto Seizure, Letters, Neighborhood Action:

Employment Loss, Sex Buyer Arrest, Cameras, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Commercial Sex:

Research Reports:

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 5586
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