CUMBERLAND, Pa. (WHTM) – Human trafficking is an issue in Central Pennsylvania. Highways and interstates that run through the Midstate play a huge role.
Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit someone for profit.
On Wednesday, government and local officials held a roundtable at Messiah College. It comes almost one week after the Cumberland County Human Trafficking Task Force executed search warrants at five massage parlors in the county.
All five were shut down. But Cumberland County District Attorney Sean McCormack said on Wednesday that he knows of two of those businesses that have already reopened.
“I know from the information I see that a van had pulled up to the one, dropped off two women and the open sign was blinking today as I went past,” McCormack said.
McCormack says the open sign was blinking at 149 Massage in Camp Hill.
During the roundtable, officials went around the room talking about what may help stop human, sex and labor trafficking. The key is awareness.
“I think that it’s important for all Americans to recognize that unfortunately as unflattering as it is the United States is probably the number one or two destination on the globe for sex trafficking and that’s labor trafficking as well,” Republican Congressman Scott Perry said.
Upper Allen Township police attending the discussion brought up things that would be helpful for them, including a database.
“The one thing that I think would be helpful is some type of database for tips of suspected involvement. And then other law enforcement may pull the same vehicle over in another state and realize there was a tip submitted previously,” Upper Allen Township police detective Trent Mellott said.
A representative from Pa. Restaurant and Lodging says the house is currently drafting a piece of legislation that if passed would mandate awareness training for public lodging establishments and all hotel employees.
“Then it would also mandate the implementation of procedures for reporting suspected trafficking either to the national human trafficking hotline or to local law enforcement agencies,” PA Restaurant and Lodging representative Lauren Brinjac said.
If you suspect a human traffic incident, you can report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline or call 911. It’s always better to report even if it turns out to be nothing.