Pittston, Luzerne County -- "In all my 16 years of law enforcement, I have never seen anything like this or heard anything like this in the area," said Pittston Police Detective Sergeant Neil Murphy. He is disturbed by a suspected prostitution ring. The case is equally disturbing to prosecutors. "This is probably the first time our area has really seen a situation like this where a number of underage girls have been working in sort of an organized fashion with other adult individuals and having a prostitution situation," said Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney Jenny Roberts who heads the Special Victims Unit in the district attorney's office.
The joint investigation by Pittston and State Police resulted in Thursday's arrests of 30-year-old Anthony Boone and his 29-year-old brother, Gregory -- both of Pittston. Police also issued arrest warrants for Randy Coleman of Pittston and 19-year-old Jose Alvelo of Nanticoke. Investigators say the ring relied on the internet to recruit teenaged girls into selling sex for cash. "They've been using social networking sites to gain the trust of the girls," said Detective Sgt. Murphy. He says the men used a Pittston home at North Main and Parsonage Streets to run the ring and used three Pittston area girls to profit from prostitution. "At least some of these girls were made to be forced or felt as though they had to or that some harm may have befallen them had they not cooperated with these defendants."
Police believe there could be more underage teens who were used in the Pittston Area prostitution ring but fear those girls are intimidated to come forward. Prosecutors say the girls, as minors, are victims themselves. "If they have individuals that are pressuring them or soliciting them to commit prostitution, that's a problem. We want to know about it and we'll do everything we can to protect them," said ADA Roberts.
Police suspect Coleman and Alvelo are still in the area. Authorities urge people who know the pair's whereabouts to come forward. "Anything they can provide us is going to be followed up especially with the state police help and resources in this. We feel very confident that we will be able to bring them to justice," said Detective Sgt. Murphy.