On October 25, Barshay Dunbar was found guilty of 10 charges that included human trafficking, promoting prostitution, and drug sales. Dunbar’s initial arrest took place on October 28, 2016 at a Super 8 motel in Cambria County, where he was found with two women and 50 stamped bags of heroin. According to the Richland Township Chief of Police, one of the women in Dunbar’s company admitted to being in his “stable” and was forced into the commercial sex industry where her only payment was in the form of drugs.
The investigation began after concerned hotel managers notified the department of suspicious activity occurring on the property. The officers assigned to the case located photographs of two young women who they first presumed to be underage from their online names suggesting their status as that of younger teens. Witnesses also reported that the women appeared to be “strung out” on drugs. Officers later established that both women were above the age of 18, but were still under Dunbar’s control.
“We’re so grateful for the commitment of the District Attorney’s office and Law Enforcement to see this case to conviction,” Erika B. Brosig, Clinical Supervisor at Cambria County Victim Services Inc. told the CSE Institute.
Since Dunbar’s arrest and conviction, residents of Cambria County have begun to acknowledge that human trafficking is an unfortunate reality within their community. Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan admitted recently to The Tribune Democrat that she had been previously unaware of the effect trafficking was having on her own community. Her eyes were opened after attending a seminar on the topic.
District Attorney Callihan also told The Tribune Democrat that trafficking is closely related to the drug trade in Cambria County, with some former drug dealers leaving the trade to enter into trafficking because the profits are higher and the risk of being arrested is lower. It is also common for traffickers to use drugs as means of control over victims by threatening to withhold them if the victim refuses to comply.
“The connection between the opioid epidemic and human trafficking in our community is becoming clearer and more disturbing every day. We’re proud to live in a county where this crime is taken seriously and we’re thankful for District Attorney Callihan’s dedication to this issue,” Brosig added about the Dunbar case. The CSE Institute is encouraged by Dunbar’s trafficking conviction, and is also pleased to see key stakeholders recognizing and acknowledging the association between trafficking and the drug trade within their communities. Furthering our understanding about the relationship between these two illegal industries is an important step in fighting against the serious harms they pose to all who are involved.
The CSE Institute would also like to congratulate District Attorney Callahan for her work in prosecuting this instance of human trafficking and related crimes. Additionally, we praise the work of the Richland Township police for taking a victim-centered approach to their initial investigation of the case, paving the way for Dunbar’s ultimate conviction. The CSE Institute would also like to especially acknowledge the tireless efforts of victim service coordinators, such as Erika B. Brosig, for their work throughout the case. Lastly, we wish to highlight the bravery of the victims whose testimony helped ensure the success of Dunbar’s prosecution.
Dunbar’s sentencing is scheduled for December 12, 2017.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.