NORTH READING — Chief Michael P. Murphy reports that several people were arrested this past Thursday after a joint Municipal, State, and Federal investigation into alleged human trafficking in several communities.
The case, brought forward by North Reading Police Detectives, resulted in five arrests in four communities and freed 10 women from alleged human sex trafficking.
The investigation revealed one specific location in North Reading where women were being made to engage in sex for a fee.
Chief Murphy stated:
“The North Reading Police Department, like many other municipal police departments across the country, receives tips from its citizens and monitors certain websites, including online classifieds websites, for potential human trafficking and sex crimes occurring in the community. That work led North Reading Police Detectives to determine that there was a suspected location in North Reading, where victims of human trafficking were engaging in sexual acts for a fee with people drawn by online advertisements.
“There’s a serious misconception out there that prostitution is a victimless crime. This is simply untrue. In the vast majority of cases, the person at the other end of an online advertisement is the victim of human trafficking, and someone is profiting off of their misery. Often that misery is forced upon them by their traffickers through coercion or even drug addiction. I am extremely proud of our work, with our local, state, and federal partners, to curb human trafficking and help put a stop to the suffering it creates.
“Illicit organizations, like the one dismantled in this case, often try to set up shop for short periods of time, then move on before they are detected. We were fortunate in this case that our Detectives were able to develop the information and gain the cooperation of the public to arrest those responsible.”
During the case, the North Reading Police Department partnered with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation uncovered a widespread human trafficking, sex crime, and money laundering operation that included the North Reading location.
As a result of diligent police work from Detective Lieutenant Thomas Romeo, Detective Thomas Hatch and Detective Sean O’Leary, and the North Reading Police Department Patrol Division, alleged human sex traffickers from Boston, Gloucester, and New Hampshire were arrested on Thursday.
This was a widespread law enforcement operation that involved the Attorney General, FBI, State Police, and the North Reading, Boston, Cambridge, Gloucester, Newton, Quincy, and Revere Police Departments.
“This law enforcement operation identified and freed 10 people from the bonds of human sex trafficking and captured five people who allegedly profited from their misery,” Chief Murphy said. “The victims in this case are getting the assistance they desperately need to start to put their lives back together again.”
These are allegations. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.