Sex trade op­er­a­tor jailed for hu­man traf­fick­ing

The Phoenix - - LOCAL NEWS - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler @21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Mont­coCourtNews on Twitter

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.

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