West Hanover 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

West Hanover Township is a township of roughly 11,000 residents in western Pennsylvania located in Dauphin County, PA. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the township and its surrounding communities. Situated along I-81, the area has been described as “an artery  for drug and sex trafficking,” and community residents have at times reported spikes in prostitution and sex trafficking in and around the area’s four major truck stops. These four truck stops make up what is known locally as the “Miracle Mile” – a stretch of highways that connect Interstate 81 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. 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, West Hanover Township, and nearby communities in Cumberland and Dauphin counties. 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 the county occurred after the body of a 44-year-old woman was spotted by a motorist along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Plainfield, PA.

Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is adult and minor sex trafficking. For example, in December 2005, 16 individuals from Toledo, OH, were charged as a result of the discovery of a multi-state child sex trafficking and money laundering ring. The ring operated in the Harrisburg area, primarily at the Gables of Harrisburg truck stop in West Hanover Township. According to the federal indictment, the sex traffickers “used violence and intimidation to recruit and control the women and girls working for them or their co-conspirators.” The operation began in February 2001 until December 2005, in which the sex traffickers transported women and girls throughout the United States for purposes of prostitution.

“The overt acts listed in furtherance of the conspiracy allege that the defendants used juveniles and adults for prostitution activity in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area and that they coordinated this activity by setting prices for sexual services at the Gables of Harrisburg truck stop in Linglestown, Pennsylvania and wiring money to co-conspirators in other states. The conspiracy also allegedly involved extensive interstate travel and transportation of women and girls for prostitution. Those transported include a 12 year-old girl. The multiple locations around the country connected to the charged conspiracy include Washington, D.C., and Toledo, Ohio, which is the hometown of several of the defendants. The defendants also allegedly gave and sold women and girls to each other for use as prostitutes.”

Reverse stings and other tactics focusing on consumer-level demand have been deployed at truck stops in the area, including those in West Hanover Township. During these street-level reverse sting operations, undercover female officers pose as prostituted women, soliciting offers from male sex buyers in traveling through the area. For example, in 2003, Troop H from the Pennsylvania State Police conducted a prostitution sting operation targeting both male sex buyers and prostituted women at a local struck stop in West Hanover Township. As a result of the operation, six individuals were arrested; four male sex buyers and two prostituted women. One of the male sex buyers allegedly attempted to solicit a prostituted woman for his “15-year-old friend.” He was charged with corruption of minors and patronizing a prostitute. The three other male sex buyers were charged with patronizing a prostitute. The women were charged with prostitution. This operation was conducted in coordination with a larger effort focused on reducing crime at truck stops in the state called “Maximum Effort,” a combination of vice programs Operation Cobra and Chameleon/Nightcrawler into one large initiative. As a result of the August 2003 operation, police wrote a total of 486 citations and 216 written warnings (210 of which were in active work zones) during the initiative. Additionally, eighty truck inspections were conducted and 38 trucks were put out of service, along with seven drivers. In total Maximum Effort resulted in a total of 1,098 truck inspections and 500 were placed out of service (roughly 45%) from March 2003 to August 2003. The identities, ages, hometowns, and charges of arrested sex buyers were included in reports by local media outlets.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Auto Seizure, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Local Prostitution:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 10693
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