READING, Pa. - Three people are facing charges in connection with a drug distribution and human trafficking ring in Berks County.
State Police say a trio operating in the Reading area took advantage of six women. The ages of the women range from 20 to 35 years old.
Police say the women were all struggling with severe drug addiction. Several victims testified in front of a grand jury.
"Sometimes when you think about human trafficking you think on a larger scale, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York City," said PSP Trooper David Beohm. "Here we are in Reading and it's going on here in Reading."
Two of the three suspects are already behind bars on unrelated charges. They were all indicted by a grand jury.
According to State Police, 36-year-old Bridget Thompson of Lancaster was responsible for posting ads for "dates" with the women online, including their pictures.
Police say 50-year-old Hector Rivera and 31-year-old Dushawn Ellis, both of Reading, offered some of the victims drugs in exchange for their prostitution services. The incidents are said to have happened at various hotels in the Reading area.
According to court documents, Rivera and Ellis would threaten to beat up some of the women. In one victim's case last April, Rivera allegedly emptied her bank account just after the victim received her $1,200 stimulus check.
At least four victims testified before a grand jury giving State Police the crucial evidence they needed to shut the ring down.
"It takes a lot of courage for the victims to do that," continued Trooper Beohm. "Without them we can't prosecute this."
Rivera and Ellis were already incarcerated on separate charges. Thompson is in the Berks County Jail unable to post the $250,000 bail.