16 arrests coming after Beaver County human trafficking, drug operation

16 arrests coming after Beaver County human trafficking, drug operation

BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. — Sixteen arrests are coming for men and women believed to involved after a two-night human trafficking and drug operation in Beaver County.

According to the Beaver County District Attorney, on Sept. 18 and 19, a task force conducted the operation along with several hotels in Center Township. Several potential trafficking victims were identified and were referred to agencies to get help, officials said.

“Identifying individuals who would be coming in for sexual services for pay but also identifying any network regarding human trafficking or to rescue or identify anyone who may be trafficked,” said Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier.

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The operation involved Center Township police, the FBI Human Trafficking Task Force, Pittsburgh police and other agencies.

Center Township Chief of Police Barry Kramer said the hotels in his community have created a unique challenge in that the taxes the facilities pay go to the tourism department.

“Under Pennsylvania statute, those ‘room tax’ tourism funds cannot be shared with the law-enforcement agencies which often bear a significant burden from the dark side of the hotel industry, both drug and human trafficking,” Kramer said.

“That is a critical issue. I know the Center Township Police Chief has been talking to members of the state legislature, bot the Senate and House, for a couple of years, asking for state law to broaden the types of uses that hotel tax can be used for,” Lozier said.

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