Western Pennsylvanians Aim to Stop Human Trafficking

It sounds like a big-city problem. Or something that happens in other countries. But human trafficking infiltrates small towns, which is why the Beaver County Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition is being formed.  The coalition includes community members and a response team made up of the district attorney’s office, county detectives, Beaver County Emergency Services, local police, the Beaver County Jail, adult and juvenile probation, Beaver County Children and Youth Services and the Women’s Center.

The driving force behind the program to raise community awareness are the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden. Although no cases of human trafficking have been identified in Beaver County, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, noted District Attorney Anthony Berosh, saying “All too often we find out too late.”

Beaver County Detective Lt. Kim Clements said the goal now is to build awareness of the problem and know that it may happen or can happen here. Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Popovich said Beaver County is an area where labor trafficking could be more prevalent. There may not be a base for the sex trade in Beaver County, but that also doesn’t mean that kind of activity isn’t going on, Popovich said. There are websites where men can essentially order women to be delivered, and some of those advertisements are based in Pittsburgh.

Krista Hoffman, a criminal justice training specialist with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, warned a group of law enforcement, human service agents and citizens at a recent anti-human trafficking training seminar in Beaver County that a gas drilling boom means an influx of a large population of transient men. She said other areas have seen an increase in human trafficking with the increase of drilling. Traffickers watch for areas where there will be a lot of potential business, Hoffman said. “That’s a lot of money to be made,” she said. “They’re going to be bringing victims.”

Learn more at Kristen Doerschner’s Times Online article: Beaver County preparing to stave off human trafficking.

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