Several locations in the State of Pennsylvania, including here in Erie, were raided in an investigation of an alleged Human Trafficking Ring.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced charges against a Florida business owner for operating a human trafficking ring under the guise of massage parlors in Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia.
David Williams, 41, of Pensacola, was arrested and charged with using interstate facilities for purposes of racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the harboring of illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain by United States Attorney Lawrence Keefe, of the Northern District of Florida.
The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Pennsylvania State Police, and Pittsburgh FBI led the investigation into the organization’s operations in Pennsylvania and, on Thursday, executed nine search warrants in Turtle Creek, Carnegie, Jeannette, Bridgeville, Erie, and McKees Rock. Agents in Florida also executed multiple federal search warrants in Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Gainesville.
The Erie location was called 1407 Massage, located at 1407 Peninsula Drive in Millcreek Twp.
The charges allege that Williams was exploiting undocumented women and offering sexual acts for money during massages at his parlors. The investigation originated from a tip received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The investigation remains ongoing.
“The defendant allegedly used his businesses to exploit women in several different states and force them into prostitution purely to line his own pockets,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Thanks to strong collaboration with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we have put an end to this criminal enterprise and are seeking justice for the defendant’s victims.” Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg is prosecuting the case. In addition to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, the following law enforcement agencies participated in the investigation: the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, the Gainesville Police Department, the Clearwater Police Department, the Florida State Attorney’s Office. All charges discussed are accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.