A Facebook message from a 14-year-old girl asking for help led to the discovery of a human trafficking ring in the Philadelphia suburbs.
East Whiteland Township police, Chester County detectives and Homeland Security investigators rescued the girl from the parking lot of a Malvern, Pennsylvania, Wawa on May 30, Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said Wednesday.
Investigators said the girl had been held for several weeks against her will in various locations in the area. Investigators then found out the 14-year-old and an 18-year-old woman were being forced into sex by three men and others.
The girl told police that she was forced to have sex four to five times a day at three different East Whiteland Township locations and that if she didn’t that she and her mother would be killed.
A trio of men face trafficking in minors, involuntary servitude, criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, promoting prostitution and related corrupt organization offenses for the Malvern-based sex trafficking organization from February to May of this year, Ryan’s office said.
“These codefendants engaged in a criminal conspiracy and criminal course of conduct by recruiting, enticing, soliciting, transporting, obtaining and maintaining individuals who they benefited from financially while they were subjected to sexual servitude, as well as other sexual assaults and criminal activity,” Ryan’s office said in a news release.
Arrested for the sex trafficking organization charges were 34-year-old Dimas Omar Cornejo-Hernandez, a.k.a. “Adonys;” 25-year-old Franklin Rivera-Mendieta, a.k.a. “Mono;” and 33-year-old Josue Sibrian-Sanchez, a.k.a. “Sibrian.” All three men were being held on bail ranging from $150,000 to $750,000, the DA's office said.
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Five other men from the age of 23 to 45 were charged with paying for sex with the victims, the DA’s office said.
The 14-year-old girl, who had been missing from Maryland since May texted a friend about being held against her will and sold for sex, the criminal complaint said. That friend in turn contacted police.
The girl then Facebook messaged her mom on May 28 that she “didn’t want to be here anymore” and asked her mother to pick her up at an East Whiteland Township Wawa store, investigators said. Her mother called police who rescued the girl on May 30.
The girl later told investigators that a 17-year-old fellow victim named “Tiny” recruited her at a Washington, D.C., party. “Tiny,” who is from Camden, New Jersey, and the girl communicated through Snapchat where “Tiny” asked the girl if she wanted to make money.
“Tiny” and one of the defendants picked the girl up in Maryland and drove her back to Chester County where she was forced to perform a sex act on one of the defendants, investigators said.
“Tiny” and a defendant then took photos of the girl to use for advertising her for sex and bought her “sexy clothes” at a Walmart, investigators said. She was told to use a fake name and lie about her age. Another defendant would stand guard at the door as individuals paid for sex with the girl.
During the investigation, the 18-year-old victim was discovered. She said that she was recruited by a woman via Snapchat earlier this year “on the premise that he had a job for her working in a bar,” investigators said.
The second victim was picked up in Virginia and driven back to Chester County where she was forced to have sex for money as a defendant stood watch at the door, investigators said.
She was sexually assaulted by one of the defendants and threatened with bodily harm if she attempted to leave, investigators said. She was also forced to ingest drugs on multiple occasions.
She was able to escape after about three weeks.
Authorities want to know if other girls or young women were victimized.
“The allegations in this case are difficult to digest because of the calculated and deviant sexual exploitation of the two victims,” Ryan said. “Our office will continue the investigation to determine if there are other victims of this human sex trafficking organization.”
The voice mailbox for Hernandez’s attorney was full Wednesday. Attorney information for the other two main defendants couldn’t be found.