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News

3 Pennsylvanians Charged In Human Trafficking, Drug Smuggling Ring, State Police Say

Pennsylvania State Police
Pennsylvania State Police Photo Credit: Pennsylvania State Police Facebook page

Pennsylvania State Police have charged two Berks County men and a Lancaster County woman in connection with a drug distribution and human trafficking ring operating in and around Reading, Berks County.

Hector M. Rivera, 50, of Reading; Dushawn O. Ellis, 31, of Reading; and Bridget M. Thompson, 36, of Lancaster; have been 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."

A tip to the PSP Organized Crime Unit helped investigators develop several leads and to identify multiple victims starting in early 2020.

In May 2021, a grand jury was formed to review the investigation. It concluded that Rivera, Ellis and Thompson operated a corrupt organization involving 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."

Hector Manuel Rivera has been charged with the following:

  • Corrupt Organizations (F1) (2 counts)
  • Trafficking in Individuals (F1) (8 counts)
  • Criminal Attempt-Trafficking in Individuals (F1) (8 counts)
  • Criminal Conspiracy-Trafficking in Individuals (F1) (8 counts)
  • Involuntary Servitude (F1) (5 counts)
  • Criminal Attempt-Involuntary Servitude (F1) (5 counts)
  • Criminal Conspiracy-Involuntary Servitude (F1) (5 counts)
  • Prostitution and Related Offenses (F3) (7 counts)
  • Criminal Attempt-Prostitution and Related Offenses (F3) (7 counts)
  • Criminal Conspiracy-Promoting Prostitution (F3) (7 counts)
  • Criminal Use of Communication Facility (F3) (1 count)
  • Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession with Intent to Deliver or Manufacture of a Controlled Substance (F1) (1 count)

Rivera's court documents have not been publicly filed and released.

Dushawn Onell Ellis has been charged with the following:

  • Corrupt Organizations (F1) (2 counts)
  • Trafficking in Individuals (F1) (6 counts)
  • Criminal Attempt-Trafficking in Individuals (F1) (6 counts)
  • Criminal Conspiracy-Trafficking in Individuals (F1) (6 counts)
  • Involuntary Servitude (F1) (5 counts)
  • Criminal Attempt-Involuntary Servitude (F1) (3 counts)
  • Criminal Conspiracy-Involuntary Servitude (F1) (3 counts)
  • Prostitution and Related Offenses (F3) (8 counts)
  • Criminal Attempt-Prostitution and Related Offenses (F3) (8 counts)
  • Criminal Conspiracy-Promoting Prostitution (F3) (8 counts)
  • Criminal Use of Communication Facility (F3) (1 count)
  • Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession with Intent to Deliver or Manufacture of a Controlled Substance (F1) (1 count)
  • Simple Assault (M2) (1 count)

Ellis's preliminary hearing has not been scheduled as his arraignment is pending.

Bridget Marie Thompson has been charged with the following:

  • Corrupt Organizations (F1) (2 counts)
  • Trafficking in Individuals (F1) (2 counts)
  • Criminal Attempt-Trafficking in Individuals (F1) (2 counts)
  • Criminal Conspiracy-Trafficking in Individuals (F1) (2 counts)
  • Involuntary Servitude (F1) (2 counts)
  • Criminal Conspiracy-Involuntary Servitude (F3) (2 counts)
  • Prostitution and Related Offenses (F3) (5 counts)
  • Criminal Conspiracy-Prostitution and Related Offenses (F3) (5 counts)

Thompson is being held in the Berks County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Her preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 3 at 2 p.m.

"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 tips@pa.gov, or to a local law enforcement agency.

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