Scranton, Pa

Berks County Man Convicted Under Act 105

Posted: December 13, 2016

On November 30, 2016, Judge Thomas G. Parisi sentenced Boyertown resident Martin C. Mercado to 3 to 8 years in state prison for the charge of involuntary servitude, making Mercado, age 35, the first person in Berks County to be convicted under Pennsylvania’s comprehensive human trafficking statute. The statute, colloquially referred to as “Act 105,” was enacted in 2014. Since then the CSE Institute has tracked and reported on four other convictions under the new law: two cases out of Lehigh County (February & April, 2016), one in Montgomery County, and another in Wayne County.

Mercado pled guilty to the charges of involuntary servitude, endangering welfare of a child, and simple assault. Other charges, including trafficking in minors and solicitation of minors to traffic drugs, were dismissed. Berks County Assistant District Attorney Carmen J. Bloom White was responsible for prosecuting the case. White was quoted in the Reading Eagle, describing the learning process she undertook to carefully assess and apply the human trafficking charges.

According to media reports, Mercado provided the 16-year-old victim with illicit substances including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana in exchange for sexual servitude. Additionally, Mercardo forced the victim to stay under his control by threatening to have a gang murder her if she attempted to escape or contact police. Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3012(b), the Pennsylvania legislature explicitly recognized that facilitating a person’s access to controlled substances is a means of subjecting a person to involuntary servitude. In the Reading Eagle article, Assistant District Attorney White further explained the legal basis for Mercado’s conviction rested on the fact that he provided drugs (i.e. something of value) in exchange for sex with the minor, and he used criminally coercive tactics to prevent the child from getting help.

The CSE Institute commends Assistant District Attorney White and the Berks County District Attorney’s Office for identifying Mercado’s offenses as human trafficking crimes and prosecuting him under the new law.

Category: News

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