It was reported in the Standard Speaker that on Thursday, November 17, 2016, that 17 people were arrested and apprehended throughout Luzerne County on prostitution-related charges. In a comprehensive undercover intelligence operation that included the use of surveillance, Sugarloaf Township police, with the help of the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, conducted a sting operation that resulted in the arrests. Those apprehended are set to face charges of prostitution or patronizing prostitutes.
The operation uncovered that sex buyers would pay for sex in cash or drugs. These transactions would take place at area hotels or motels, cars, and parking lots. Sugarloaf Police Chief Josh Winters stated that intelligence information found that pimping, as well as sexual and physical abuse were occurring, and that two women facing charges were forced to prostitute themselves. Winters further expressed that this investigation pinpointed not only the prostituted women, but the sex buyers as well, because the demand for commercial sex drives the sex trade.
The women who were arrested were offered counseling and rehabilitation by the Truth Home in Bethlehem when they were taken into custody.
The CSE Institute commends the work of the Sugarloaf Township police as well as their partnering agencies for shedding light on the need to police those who are purchasing sex. Arrests of sex buyers are increasing and reports are becoming more prevalent. However, this report also sheds a grim light on the reality of the sex trade and the victimization of the women who are being prostituted. They are oftentimes sexually abused and coerced into a life that they did not choose. Unfortunately, many are still being arrested and prosecuted for prostitution offenses. We encourage law enforcement to adopt the Nordic Model and offer rehabilitative social services outside of the criminal justice system to help prostituted persons heal and restore without facing the consequences of arrest and prosecution.