A Philadelphia man is behind bars and two women whom officials say he held captive and forced into sex slavery are free, Montgomery County prosecutors said Thursday.
Police said they launched a multi-agency investigation into Bruce "Cash" Steele, 44, who they said was operating a human trafficking operation in the five-county Philadelphia region. Steele subjected the women he trafficked to "involuntary servitude," according to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele (no relation to defendant), through the use of violence, threats and coercion.
Prosecutors said when police served a warrant on Steele's home in Philadelphia, they found two women he'd been holding captive and trafficking. Both survivors, police said, went to safe places for treatment with the help of the Salvation Army's Stop Trafficking initiative.
Steele is facing 34 felony counts of charges including human trafficking, prostitution, involuntary servitude and related offenses, and authorities continue to investigate his trafficking operation.
They said Steele preyed on vulnerable women battling drug addictions who had little to no resources to protect themselves.
Steele is being held at Montgomery County Correctional Facility in lieu of $1 million cash bail. He is scheduled for an Aug. 25 preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Harry Nesbitt in Horsham.
Officials ask that anyone with additional information on Steele's trafficking operation contact Montgomery County Detectives at 610-278-3368.