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Tannersville is a village of approximately 3,000 residents, located in Monroe County, within Pennsylvania’s Pocono Township near Stroudsburg. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the village and in nearby communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local prostitution market is sex trafficking. For example, in October 2022, detectives said they tracked down a sex trafficker based in Florida after he posted a prostitution ad online, and found one of his sex trafficking victims at a hotel in Tannersville. Officials said the trafficker abused the women and forced them to engage in prostitution in multiple states, from Florida to Pennsylvania and New York. He was convicted and sentenced to spend 33 years in prison on federal sex trafficking charges.
Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. Demand reduction tactics used in the town include reverse stings. For example, in August 2015, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, with support from the Pocono Township Police Department, Stroud Area Regional Police, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Monroe County Children & Youth, FBI, and Valley Against Sex Trafficking, placed decoy advertisements to a website known for prostitution, and arranged to meet those who responded at a Tannersville motel. Law enforcement also responded to at least one advertisement offering prostitution over the course of the investigation. Seven male sex buyers and one woman being exploited through prostitution acts were arrested; all of the arrestees’ names and mugshots were publicized in news sources.
- Monroe County District Attorney’s Office
- Pocono Township Police Department
- Stroud Area Regional Police
- Monroe County Children & Youth
- Wayne County Sheriff’s Office
- Valley Against Sex Trafficking
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Monroe County Prostitution Sting Nets 7 Arrests; Authorities Used a Website to Arrange the Meetings,” WFMZ-TV 69, August 14 2015.
- “Prostitution Sting Targets Johns in Tannersville,” Pocono Record, August 14 2015.
- “Prostitutes Viewed as Victims of Human Trafficking,” Pocono Record, August 15 2015.
- “Seven Arrested in Monroe County Prostitution Sting,” Pocono News, August 15 2015.
- “Backpage.com Attracts Police Attention; Authorities Crack down on Online Sex Trafficking, Sometimes with Help of Website’s Operators,” Pocono Record, August 16 2015.
- https://www.wfmz.com/news/monroe-county-prostitution-sting-nets-7-arrests (2015)
Background on Sex Trafficking in the Area:
- “Two Charged in Stroudsburg Trafficking, Prostitution,” Pocono Record, October 6 2015.
- “Human Trafficking Probe Launched after Chinese Woman Found in Poconos Massage Parlor,” Allentown Morning Call, October 26 2015.
- “Monroe County Man Pleads Guilty to Heroin, Sex Trafficking Charges,” Pocono News, November 25 2015.
- http://www.wfmz.com/news/poconos-coal/police-man-promotes-prostitution-in-stroudsburg-hotel (2018)
- https://www.wnep.com/monroe-county/hotel-manager-sentenced-to-15-years-for-sex-trafficking (2022)
- https://www.wnep.com/monroe-county/man-sentenced-on-sex-trafficking-charges-monroe-county (2022)
- https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/pocono-sex-trafficker-gets-more-than-33-years-in-prison-feds-say (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Stroudsburg Denies Permit to Spa Owner Charged in Prostitution,” Allentown Morning Call, May 6 1993.
- “Five Individuals Indicted for Operating a Multi-State Prostitution Network,” Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, May 17 2011.
- “Fourth Defendant Sentenced in Stroudsburg Prostitution Roundup,” Pocono Record, October 7 2015.
- https://cseinstitute.org/Report on Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania (2018)