HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) announced today that charges have been filed against three people connected to a drug distribution and human trafficking ring operating in and around Reading, Berks County. Hector M. Rivera, 50, and Dushawn O. Ellis, 31, both of Reading, Pa.; and Bridget M. Thompson, 36, of Lancaster, Pa., were charged with various crimes related to corrupt organizations, trafficking individuals, prostitution, and other related offenses.
“Human trafficking is prevalent in our own communities within the commonwealth,” said Major Jeremy Richard, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “This case is a testament to the millions of men, women, and children who are trafficked worldwide and, in every city, suburb, and town in this great commonwealth.”
In early 2020, a confidential source provided information that led PSP Organized Crime Unit investigators to develop several leads and to identify multiple victims. In May 2021, PSP provided the results of its investigation to Pennsylvania Senior Deputy Attorney General Heather Castellino for presentment to the 45th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury. The grand jury concluded that Rivera, Ellis and Thompson operated a corrupt organization involved in the human trafficking of young women for the commercial sex trade. Thompson was responsible for posting advertisements and communicating with customers while Rivera and Ellis utilized drugs to lure some of the victims into prostitution and then control them. The female victims received payments from the customers which they would then turn over to either Rivera, Ellis or Thompson.
“The individuals charged today manipulated and abused terrified, vulnerable young women. They put their victims’ lives at risk for a profit,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “We’re working with our state law enforcement partners to seek out and shut down human trafficking throughout Pennsylvania.”
Rivera is charged with 42 felonies of the first degree and 22 of the third degree. Ellis is charged with 25 first-degree felonies, 27 third-degree felonies and a third-degree misdemeanor. Thompson is charged with 10 first-degree felonies and 12 third-degree felonies.
Charges were filed through District Court 23-2-01.
“I want to thank all of the investigators involved, including those in the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, for their tireless and dedicated efforts to bring justice to all of the victims,” said Major Richard.
The public is encouraged to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity through the See Something Send Something mobile app, by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or to a local law enforcement agency.