Sex trade operator jailed for human trafficking
The operator of a human trafficking ring who used fear and violence to control drug addicted women and force them into sexual slavery in Montgomery, Chester, Del- aware and Philadelphia counties is on his way to state prison.
Bruce Anthony “Cash” Steele, 45, of the 7900 block of Henry Avenue, Philadelphia, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 5 ½ to 11 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking in individuals, involun- tary servitude and possession with intent to deliver heroin and cocaine in connection with incidents that occurred in 2016.
Judge Todd D. Eisenberg also ordered Steele to complete seven years’ probation following parole, meaning Steele will be under court supervision for 18 years.
“The defendant con- trolled these girls by placing them in fear of not only violence but mainly the fear that they might go into withdrawal because he would withhold drugs from them,” said Assistant District Attorney Matthew Brittenburg. “If they failed to meet a quota, he would withhold drugs from them or he would threaten to withhold the drugs from them.
“He used that fear in order to keep them in compliance, in order to keep them working, to push them to work harder and make more money,” Brittenburg added.
Brittenburg alleged when the fear of withdrawal didn’t work Steele would use physical violence against some victims, including pistolwhipping one woman.
Court documents list seven women that Steele allegedly forced into prostitution using drugs, threats and physical and sexual abuse to keep them under this thumb.