Sixteen people are facing charges following a human trafficking investigation at hotels in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, over the weekend, officials announced on Wednesday.
Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier said the operation, which received FBI assistance, was focused on adult human trafficking and drug activity, according to the Beaver County Times.
“Human trafficking is a serious problem in too many of our communities,” FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman said in a statement. “The trauma caused by traffickers to their victims is inexcusable.”
Many of the 16 people who were charged were not from Beaver County, said Lozier.
The victims of trafficking are “being coerced into the world of prostitution to provide access to drugs,” Lozier told the paper. “In these cases, the person we’re looking to arrest, usually, is a male who is being sexually serviced against the law. And we’re looking to identify an individual who may be trafficked and trapped in that scenario to take them out of that situation and provide services as we identify if they have been trafficked.”
Center Township Police Chief Barry Kramer said crime in hotels is commonplace, saying that the state of Pennsylvania should allow hotel taxes to fund law enforcement efforts.
“Funding and resources have been very limited to address these challenges due to taxes paid by the hotels going to the Beaver County Tourism Department,” he said in a statement, according to TribLive.
Beaver County is located near Pittsburgh.