LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — On Jan. 11, 2022, The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office Human Trafficking Task Force (HTTF) was launched. One year later, 30 arrests have been made.
The task force is a collaboration of local, county, state and federal governments with private and non-profit organizations. It aims to investigate and prosecute crimes of human trafficking, ensure all trafficking victims are identified and receive access to supportive services, and foster community awareness.
According to the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office, 30 arrests were made by the HTTF in 2022, including sting operations on those soliciting prostitution and people soliciting minors for sexual activities.
The task force did multiple prostitution-related operations in its first year, aimed at reducing the demand for advertised sexual services, which fuels traffickers to fill the demand with victims, including minors.
In total, 19 people were charged with prostitution-related offenses in 2022.
The task force also arrested nine suspects through three separate stings with a detective posing as a minor and communicating with those specifically interested in finding minors for sexual activity.
To carry out the investigation, an online advertisement was created and suspects placed calls to the listed number. They would speak with an undercover detective and agreed to pay a fee for sexual contact with a minor, whose age was discussed.
Suspects traveled from Berks, Indiana, and Lehigh Counties as well as Virginia.
The nine people charged from these stings were:
- Jeffrey Fralich, 69, of the 100 block of South Walnut St., Lititz, with attempted rape of a child and 12 related felonious charges.
- Michael Bascom, 54 of the 1000 block of Main St., Slatington, with attempted statutory sexual assault, eight related felonious charges and two misdemeanor charges.
- Bradley Buchanan, 38 of the 400 block of East 3rd St., Birdsboro, with attempted rape of a child and six related felonious charges.
- Troy Probst, 41 of the first block of Clover Ave., Strasburg, with attempted statutory sexual assault and six related felonious charges.
- Jose Villa Corta, 48 of the 900 block of N Prince St., Lancaster city, with attempted statutory sexual assault and six related felonious charges.
- Tanner Iskra, 37 of the 2100 block of Harpoon Dr., Stafford, Virginia, with attempted statutory sexual assault and four related felonious charges.
- Kyle Allen, 33 of the 1000 block of Dixon Road, Clymer, with attempted statutory sexual assault and six related felonious charges.
- Grzegorz Marzec, 44 of the 100 block of Ridge Ave, Ephrata, with unlawful contact with a minor and six related felonious charges.
- Joseph Giannini, 40 of the first block of Nolt Ave, Willow Street, with unlawful contact with a minor.
Additionally, the task force arrested and charged a Deleware County man with human trafficking on April 21, 2022. A Lititz man was also arrested for unlawful contact with a minor on May, 3, 2022. He pled guilty and was sentenced up to 8 years in prison.
The task force has collaborated with Zoe International, an international organization that works to fight human trafficking by prevention, rescue and restoration. Through this partnership, the task force is equipped with trained advocates that can assist a victim immediately after being rescued.
The advocate will act as a caseworker and assist the victim each step of the way toward a restorative plan and more importantly, give the victim 24/7 emotional support so the victim has the services and supports in place that they need.
Task Force Coordinator Brad Ortenzi has initiated training of partner agencies, including Detectives from police departments across Lancaster County, Lancaster County Children and Youth Agency and Lancaster County Probation.
The task force is also prepared to train other companies and outside agencies that seek training on human trafficking.
“One of the initial goals in launching the task force was to educate and empower the community by offering training to schools, churches and other organizations to help spread awareness of this issue,” said District Attorney Heather Adams. “Public awareness and vigilance can go a long way.”